Town employees largely account for the slight taxpayer increase, elected officials say
Officials approved the town’s 2020 preliminary budget during an afternoon public hearing last Thursday, to a very small crowd and no public speakers.
The general fund’s tax levy, which tallies $38,997,701, is a 3.92 percent increase from last year’s tax levy, $37,525,346, this publication previously reported.
The general fund tax levy is only a portion of the overall cap calculation, the report adds. So even though the general fund exceeds 2 percent, the overall town budget complies with the state tax cap.
The yearly tax increase for the three major funds is approximately $18.50, which equates to $1.54 per month for an average household.
Joseph Ludwig, Islip Town comptroller, called the proposal a status quo budget during the public hearing last week. Ludwig stressed that the budget is tax-cap compliant. He also accredited the slight taxpayer increase to the cost of living adjustment and business increases.
“We, at the township, are no different,” he said. “We are not immune to the cost of everything going up in the world, but we have to find a way to make it work and we were able to make it work with the very slight tax increase.”
“We have to be responsible to the taxpayers, and what we have before us today is just that: a very, very responsible budget that puts the means of the taxpayers first and still [addresses] some of the needs going forward,” stated Islip Town supervisor Angie Carpenter during the public hearing.
Islip Town councilmember James O’Connor said the real driver for the slight increase comes from collectively bargained increases that town employees are entitled to, including health care costs.
In regards to personnel cost, Carpenter said the town needs to have a skilled workforce. “When you hire someone and train them, you want to retain them because there’s a cost associated with that,” she added.
The supervisor further explained that in the past, the town has lost employees to other municipalities that pay better. She also asked everyone to keep in mind that in almost every instance, the general fund portion of the Islip Town tax bill accounts for less than various other tax bills, such as school taxes.