Village Budget Sails Through

After a brief public hearing, the East Hampton Village Board adopted a $20.29 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year on Friday.

The budget represents a spending increase of $550,000 and results in a tax increase of 2.14 percent, a rate comparable to the average over the last seven years.

The proposed spending increase required the board to vote to authorize an override of the property tax cap, which it did last month.

In introducing the tentative budget at that time, Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said that the creation of two new programs — one to supplement the volunteer ambulance corps with paid emergency medical services and one to control the deer population through sterilization — made a spending increase necessary.

Increases to the village’s snow removal budget and workers’ compensation insurance premiums are the other primary factors in the spending hike. Equipment for the Public Works Department, roadwork, roof repairs to multiple Sea Spray cottages at Main Beach, which the village own, and drainage repair at the Emergency Services Building account for additional expenditures. The spending increase, however, is almost .5 percent less than in the prior two years, the mayor said last month.

The village’s contribution to the state retirement system and its debt service will decrease in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Aug. 1. Refinancing of two outstanding bonds will yield more savings in the future. There is also an increase in non-property-tax revenue resulting from increases in the mortgage recording tax, sales of beach parking permits, increased building permits, and rentals of village property.

Upon the board’s unanimous vote to adopt the budget, the mayor complimented Becky Molinaro, the village administrator, the department heads, and his colleagues on the board. “We feel it’s comfortable with respect to the services we are going to render, and we are moving ahead in that fashion,” he said. “Thanks to everyone that was involved.”

Joan Osborne, chairwoman of the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton, criticized the board for its $30,000 allocation to the deer sterilization program, which she called “woefully inadequate.” Earlier this month, the society launched a program to raise a hoped-for $100,000 toward a sterilization program, and previously pledged $5,000 to the village to that end.

The cost of sterilizing a doe is $1,000, Ms. Osborne said. “We were hoping,” she said, “and we’re expecting the village to come forth with more than the $30,000.” Village residents, she said, “are being inundated with deer,” which she said destroy property, carry disease, and cause motor vehicle accidents. “I would implore the village to increase that to at least $50,000 in your budget . . . so we can hopefully go forward with this project in the fall,” she said.

Mayor Rickenbach responded that if additional money is needed for a sterilization program, “we will make the appropriate transfer from other line items within the operating budget. We hear you.”