Supe breaks out scalpel to pare down 2011 budget

More than $1.5 million is being cut from Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter’s proposed town budget for 2011, bringing the projected tax rate increase to about 12 percent — down from 20 percent a few weeks ago, Mr. Walter told the News-Review.

By state law, the supervisor is required to present a tentative 2011 town budget at the end of September; that budget is then reviewed by the Town Board, which must adopt a final budget by Nov. 20.

The supervisor said that between last Monday and last Wednesday alone $360,000 was cut.

What are the cuts?

“Everything,” he said. “But not employees. We’re cutting pens, paper, consultants, equipment, supplies, tissues. We’re cutting $1,000 at a time. We went though every line in the general fund and if we can save $500 here or $1,000 there, we cut it.”

Mr. Walter also said he has asked town employees, even those under contract, to take a 5-percent pay cut. The Civil Service Employees Association said it is under a directive from its state leadership not to agree to salary cuts. Mr. Walter said he is waiting for a response from the Police Benevolent Association.

The supervisor said cuts are needed to chip away at a town deficit projected to reach $6.2 million for 2011. He said the town budgets for the past six years relied on one-shot revenues, such as money from the sale of properties at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, and that those revenues won’t repeat. The 2010 budget also anticipated about $800,000 in revenue from the sale of a town-owned building on East Main Street, which won’t happen this year, and from a lawsuit settlement, which is also unlikely to happen, Mr. Walter said.

The supervisor said he still anticipates using about $2.5 million of the remaining $7 million in reserve funds to offset taxes in the 2011 budget.

Town officials used $4.7 million in reserve funds to offset tax increases in 2010, he said.

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