Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine released his tentative 2020 budget Monday, which shows that the town has remained in good fiscal standing during the past year. The budget uses no reserve balances to supplement the six major funds and grows the balance of several reserve accounts.
The budget, according to a town statement, complies with the New York State tax levy cap, the town’s tax caps and the town’s debt management policies.
Some budget highlights include:
- A flat rate for garbage collection at $350
- Increase of $1.6 million in the post-closure landfill reserve
- Maintains flat staffing level and services
- Additional $5 million for resurfacing roads
- Bond debt reduction of up to $20 million
The capital budget includes $26.4 million for highway, drainage, facilities and other services under the department, $14.6 million less than in the 2019 budget. It has a total of 43.9 million for open space, parks and recreation, vehicle and facility improvements and more. Also, the town has $17.6 million in unfinished projects that will carry over, compared to $29 million for the 2019 budget.
The landfill reserve fund is estimated to have $22 million by 2024, when it is expected to close. It currently has $13 million, with additions each year.
Romaine has made it a goal since entering office in 2013 to increase recurring nontax revenues. Nontax revenue now makes up 41.8 percent of all revenue, according to town documents, compared to 37.2 percent in the 2019 budget. The town has been given a AAA credit rating — the highest — by both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. The rating is similar to personal finance, Romaine said, and allows the town to participate in the market by obtaining lower interest rates, saving money in the long term.
As for the town’s debt, officials expect that 90 percent of Brookhaven’s outstanding debt will be paid within a decade. They attribute this to a change in bond strategy, shortening the length to 12 years versus 20 or more before Romaine entered office. About 34 percent of bond debt is in road projects and 20 percent is open space acquisitions.
Tamara Branson, the town’s commissioner of finance, credited the town’s success to financial flexibility, which has allowed taxes to stay stable, and the growth of reserve funds. The town also has a strong cash position that allows them to purchase equipment and other things without borrowing.
“I think it’s a good budget,” Romaine told members of the press Monday afternoon. “If you’re a taxpayer, you’ll like this budget.”
Capital Budget snapshot
$26.4 million – Highway Department
$5.2 million – Parks and Recreation
$4.6 million – Open Space Preservation and Land Acquisition
$4.4 million – Landfill Infrastructure Improvements
$2.5 million – Vehicles, Facility Improvements, Security
$800,000 – Technology, PELM, Sewer Improvements
$43.9 million – Total Capital Budget
Carryover projects: $17.6 million