In the aftermath of an economic shutdown, townships like Brookhaven remain
obligated to draft a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Brookhaven’s tentative 2020-2021 budget has been released publicly, as of Thursday, Oct. 1. Town supervisor Ed Romaine said that every budget is difficult, but added that this one particularly had its constraints.
“Although our economy is slowly coming back, that had a huge impact on our
budget,” Romaine said. “Landfill revenue is down. Building department revenue is down. We had a number of things happen.”
The supervisor pointed out during a press roundtable on Zoom last week on the matter that the tax cap relevant to drafting the budget is 1.56 percent and complies with the New York State tax cap levy. Romaine added that no fund balancing was used in the budget across all six of its districts.
“This budget that I have submitted complies with the town’s spending, debt management caps, as well as our fund balance policies,” Romaine said. “We provide for a flat property tax on the part town general and townwide highway fund. We keep the recycling and refuse costs to less than $1 a
day. [We grew the] landfill reserve fund. If you take all of the funds other than that, you are talking about $8.93 on average that the average taxpayer owes.”
General fund 2021 property taxes have been increased by $2.3 million from last year in order to address declining departmental revenues.
“This represents an annual increase for the ‘typical taxpayer’ of $13.68 per year, offset by a reduction of $4.75 per year for the highway-related property taxes, for a net increase in property taxes for five of the six major funds of $8.93,” reads the summary portion of the budget.
The summary also mentions the increased refuse and garbage service fees
for single-family homes due to a 13 percent increase in garbage and recycling material accrued during the previous fiscal year.
“New York State’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ order resulting in school closures and an
increase in residents working from home,” the summary reads. “As a result, the 2021 tentative budget has an annual user fee for a single-family home of $365, or $1 per day.”
To address the deficiency, an additional $1 million has been allocated during the 2021 tentative budget.
Mainly attributable to an exit incentive program in the town, there was a 6 percent reduction in staff. However, the building department actually increased its employee count, according Matt Miner, to the town’s chief of operations.
“We added additional staff to our building department to expedite as able. We
want to get back to normal. [Interested parties] want to get up their renovations that they have been putting off, [and we are] jump-starting staff to make that happen.”
The town was able to reduce total town employee costs by $9.7 million and total town expenditures by 3.6 percent.
“The town did not furlough or layoff any full-time employees in fiscal year 2020, even during the New York State mandated 50 [percent] workforce reduction for government entities,” the summary reads. “Government entities are not entitled to employee retention credit or the reimbursements under the Paid Sick and Paid Family Leave Act that were available to private businesses, which would have brought great relief to the local taxpayer.”
Although the highway funds are projected to break even in 2020, the Tropical
Storm Isaias required efforts that have not been fully measured yet.