Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and the Town Board today approved the 2019 Town Budget that continues to sustain the $1.3 million property tax cut approved by the Town Board for 2018 by implementing a plan that freezes property taxes in 2019. This tax freeze is possible due to a $10 million reduction in debt service payments – the result of a record breaking $135 million debt reduction initiative instituted by Supervisor Saladino. The 2019 Budget continues to pay down record amounts of Town debt. As a result, total Town debt will decline from a high of $763 million to $613 million by the end of 2019 – bringing this administration’s three–year cumulative debt reduction to a grand total of $150 million.
Supervisor Saladino stated, “We have reduced total Town debt by a record $135 million while cutting property taxes by $1.3 million in 2018 – the first Town property tax reduction in more than two decades. This budget continues that property tax cut in 2019, returning $2.6 million to taxpayers over the two year period. This is great news for homeowners and reinforces our commitment to taxpayers.”
While internal controls limit new spending, costs not under the Town’s control will continue to rise in 2019 due to State-mandated expenses related to employee healthcare costs, pension contributions, the MTA Payroll Tax and New York State unfunded mandates. The 2019 Budget continues to constrain government spending that is under its control while delivering the important services residents have come to expect and deserve.
“From new internal financial controls to holding departments accountable for their budgets, we have restored fiscal accountability and moved beyond the financial problems of the past. Our Town is delivering better services, with fewer employees, and at less cost to taxpayers as savings have been achieved throughout Town government. In fact, we deliver all the services of the Town at an average cost of $140 a month – just 13% of your property tax bill and less than your monthly cable and phone bill,” added Supervisor Saladino.
The 2019 Budget includes a savings of $11 million in full-time salaries when compared to 2016 due to the elimination of 150 positions. The full-time workforce for 2019 has been reduced from a high of 1,250 employees nearly seven years ago to just below 1,000 employees. This 20% workforce reduction saves significant dollars in terms of salary and pension costs for this generation and future generations. Despite this workforce reduction, the Town of Oyster Bay is delivering better services and at less cost to taxpayers. Savings have also been achieved for taxpayers through efficiencies and the elimination of past wasteful spending practices. Costs related to contractor services and outside consultants have been reduced, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being saved through the installation of LED lighting, fiber optic communication costs are being cut in half, more engineering projects in-house, new concessions are generating greater revenue for taxpayers, banks and lending institutions holding vacant properties are being held responsible for costs related to maintenance of zombie homes and the Town continues to pursue of restitution from companies allegedly responsible for disrepair at the Town’s Commuter Parking Garage in Hicksville and from those who admitted fault in crimes against Town taxpayers.
The future holds many challenges for the Town of Oyster Bay. From remediation and containment of the Grumman-Navy Plume to cleanup efforts at the ballfield in Bethpage Community Park, the Town will continue to pursue justice for our community and environment. The 2019 Budget includes the funding necessary for engineers in the Department of Public Works to continue their efforts in addressing these environmental hazards. In Hicksville, the Town of Oyster Bay will continue with economic development, transportation, and local projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The 2019 Budget includes the funds necessary for the Town of Oyster Bay to continue seeking State investments in downtown Hicksville through the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and the Empire State Development Corporation. The 2019 Budget also includes the appropriate funding in the Department of Environmental Resources to lead a Citizens Advisory Committee charged with independent environmental testing of land at the proposed site of development in Syosset. The administration is investing in our roadways. Ninety-three miles of roadway will be improved in Phase I alone. The 2019 Budget includes the financial resources to implement Phase II of the repaving plan and deliver the manpower needed to finish Phase I.
Supervisor Saladino concluded, “While challenges will always remain, the Town of Oyster Bay is beginning to leave behind the years of fiscal instability from the prior administration thanks to stronger financial management, debt reduction initiatives, greater efficiencies and innovative programs designed to better serve residents and save the taxpayers more money. This administration and Town Board will continue to govern with fiscally conservative budgeting practices that place the utmost importance on protecting your wallet and moving our community forward.”