East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. presented a tentative budgetof almost $20.3 million for the fiscal year, which begins on Aug. 1, at a village board meeting last Thursday, which would pierce the state-imposed 2-percent increase in property taxes. If the budget is approved by the board after a public hearing on June 20, spending would increase by 2.75 percent, or $542,870.
The proposed spending increase is almost .5 percent less than in the prior two fiscal years, the mayor said. He said a paid emergency medical services professional and a deer sterilization program had contributed to the increase. “As it relates to the potential for the E.M.S. paid program to mesh with our wonderful volunteer ambulance cadre, if that was not included, and the deer program . . . we would fall below the tax cap,” he said, pointing out that $30,000 had been allocated for deer management. “We feel as a responsible body that we have to put these into the budget.”
The village tax rate, which has increased at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent over the last seven years, is proposed to go up 2.28 percent next year, the mayor said. “The Village of East Hampton has been fortunate to maintain a healthy financial outlook while seeking to provide the level of services expected by its residents and while keeping spending at an appropriate level,” the mayor said, reading from prepared remarks.
Other increases in spending were for snow removal — a consequence of the recent harsh winter — and Workers Compensation insurance premiums. Needed equipment for the Public Works Department, roadwork, roof repairs to the village-owned Sea Spray cottages, and drainage work at the Emergency Services Building also accounted for additional spending.
The village’s debt service and contributions to the state retirement system, which covers employees, will decrease in the coming year, however, and refinancing of two outstanding bonds will yield more savings in the future, the mayor said. A $142,861 increase in mortgage recording tax revenue, more money from sales of beach parking permits, increased building permits, and rentals of village property were also in the budget.
The board heard from Olivia Brooks and Ann Roberts of the Ladies Village Improvement Society at the meeting, who said that some business owners and landlords were not doing their part to clean up litter. “I think we need a short, bold letter to the owners of the building: clean up your act,” Ms. Roberts said. Ms. Brooks named shops on Main Street and Newtown Lane that she said were not doing their part. Windblown magazines and pamphlets, she said, are also a problem.
Mayor Rickenbach suggested sending a letter to all businesses. “Part of that would be a paragraph where we salute those that are taking responsibility, but at the same time we need to just relate to those where it’s lacking,” he said. The letter is to be shown to the L.V.I.S. for approval, he said.
Scott Fithian, the superintendent of public works, who had been tasked with suggesting improvements to parking in the village lots, also addressed the board. He proposed a 30-minute limit for five spaces adjacent to the Waldbaum’s supermarket in the Reutershan lot and for five spaces in the Barns Schenck lot. With the exception of designated 15-minute parking along the sidewalk in the Reutershan lot, a two-hour limit has been in effect in both lots from May 1 through Dec. 31, and the board recently voted to extend that limit to Fridays, Saturdays, and federal holidays between Jan. 1 and April 30.
Linda Riley, the village attorney, said signs would have to be put up and the village code amended. “We’ll codify and bring it for a public hearing,” the mayor said.