The Riverhead Town Board unanimously approved the town’s 2024 budget during a special meeting Wednesday morning.
The budget, which remained unchanged from Supervisor Yvette Aguiar’s tentative budget proposal filed Sept. 30, will increase the tax levy by 4.86%. The increase in the levy required the board to pass a resolution piercing the state-imposed 2% levy cap. The budget of the three town-wide funds — the general fund, the highway fund and the street lighting district fund — will be just over $69.4 million, a 5.5% spending increase over 2023.
The levy increase will cause the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value to rise to $62.319 per thousand, up from $59.613 per thousand this year. Assessed value is a fraction of current market value. The supervisor’s budget document states that an “average” home in Riverhead has a market value of $538,000 and an assessed value of $50,000. That home would see a property tax increase of $135.50 to cover the three town-wide funds.
Additional town taxes are levied on properties located within the water district, sewer district, garbage district, ambulance district, and public parking district, to cover the expenses of those districts. Proposed total spending, including these districts and the three town-wide funds, would top $111.3 million in 2024.
Significant spending increases in the budget include the addition of five new police officers in the Riverhead Police Department — bringing the total to 100 officers — and the addition of four civilian employees. Town officials also attributed large spending increases to the rising cost of employee health insurance and employee retirement contributions.
“We worked very hard. We kept the board informed,” Aguiar said before the budget vote. “We knew we had to make some tough choices. However, no services were diminished. We continue the services. In some places we enhanced the services.”
Town officials noticed today’s special meeting on Saturday to vote on the budget resolutions following last week’s public hearing. The town is required to adopt its budget by Nov. 20, which this year is a day before the next regularly scheduled Town Board meeting.
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