Walter set to unveil tentative 2014 budget for Riverhead Town

09/28/2013 10:00 AM |
Sean Walter speech

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter delivering his annual ‘State of the Town’ speech this year in Calverton.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is scheduled to unveil his tentative 2014 town budget in a 10 a.m. presentation at Town Hall Monday.

And, the supervisor said in an interview this week, he plans to use more than the $3.1 million in fund balance that was used last year to offset tax increases.

The reason for the additional use of surplus funds stems from a state comptroller’s audit of the town in March that faulted the way the town used administrative chargebacks from other departments to fund its general fund.

Changes to the chargebacks usage left the town general fund just under $1 million short in revenue. And though the budget proposes borrowing more than $3.1 million used in the current year’s budget, it won’t be a full $1 million more, Mr. Walter said.

“I don’t have the final number, but we were about $1 million behind from the audit on chargebacks,” he said.

The town has been using the fund balance, or surplus funds, to offset tax increases in its budget for at least a decade, with much of that money coming from land sales or contracts for land sales at the Enterprise Park in Calverton.

The town has appropriated fund balance amounts of $4.7 million in 2010, $2.6 million in 2011, $2.6 million in 2012, and $3.08 million in 2013 toward reducing the tax rate.

The tentative 2014 budget also will have to include a number to represent anticipated contractual agreements with the town’s two largest employee unions, the Civil Service Employees Association and the Police Benevolent Association, both of who are in negotiations for their 2014 contracts, Mr. Walter said.

During that same time, the so-called “town-wide” budget – which includes general fund, highway and street lighting, the three districts every property owner in town pays into – has increased by 4.6 percent, and is currently at $53.06 million, according to town records.

Mr. Walter wouldn’t disclose the proposed tax rate increase in his upcoming budget, but said it has to comply with the state’s two-percent tax cap.

That cap applies to tax levies, rather than tax rates, and includes some exemptions.

Since Mr. Walter and the current Town Board took office in January 2010, the “town-wide” budget , which includes general fund, highway and street lighting, the districts every property owner in town pays into , has increased by 4.6 percent, and is currently at $53.06 million, town records show.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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