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Town Board pierces tax cap, East Lawn sale on hold

The Riverhead Town Board voted 4-1 to adopt its 2016 town budget and to pierce the state’s two-percent tax levy cap at its meeting Tuesday night. 

The board added $80,000 in new anticipated rental permit fees to the tentative budget proposed by Supervisor Sean Walter. Of that money, $50,000 would be set aside for new computer equipment to link the building and planning departments and $30,000 would be used on additional code enforcement.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio thanked Supervisor Sean Walter for adding those items, which she had pushed for, but still voted against both the budget and the decision to pierce the tax cap. Ms. Giglio was defeated by Mr. Walter in the election for town supervisor earlier this month.

The $54 million adopted budget calls for a 5.06 percent tax levy increase,  a 4.08 percent tax rate increase, and a one percent spending increase in the three taxing districts paid by all town residents — general fund, highway and street lighting.

• The board also withdrew a resolution okaying the sale of the dilapidated East Lawn building to one of the owners and founders of the Long Island Aquarium for $180,000. Mr. Walter said the potential buyer, Joe Petrocelli, asked for more time.

The resolution required Mr. Petrocelli to rent at least 350 square feet of office space in the building to the Riverhead Town Historian at $10 per square foot for three years, with options available for additional years.

The proposed deal was contingent on Mr. Petrocelli renovating the building in a manner which matched the historic character of the 165-year-old structure. Mr. Petrocelli also could terminate the contract without penalty if he finds that asbestos remediation will cost more than $2,500.

Meanwhile, Greg Fischer of Calverton told the board on Tuesday that he would pay $200,000 for the building, which he wants to use as an office for SCORE, a non-profit group that aids small businesses. Mr. Walter told him to submit an offer.

The town previously had agreements to sell the building for less money to Suffolk Theater owner Bob Castaldi and then to a group headed by Business Improvement District Management Association member Isabelle Gonzalez, but both deals fell through, in part due on the lack of parking on the site.

To read a recap of News-Review reporter Tim Gannon’s live blog of the meeting, click below.

Live Blog Riverhead Town Board 11-17-2015

November 17, 2015 – Agenda by Timesreview

November 17, 2015 – Packet by Timesreview