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Riverhead Town Board approves $54.4 million budget

The Riverhead Town Board approved a $54.4 million town budget for 2017 at Tuesday night’s meeting by a 4-1 vote, with all but Councilwoman Jodi Giglio approving a tax increase that pierces the state-mandated cap.

Under the adopted budget, the tax levy will rise by roughly 4.1 percent. Under the state tax levy cap law, Riverhead Town was limited in raising its levy — the total amount collected from taxpayers — by about $475,000 compared to 2016. Supervisor Sean Walter said that would have required the town to cut $1.3 million from the budget. The state tax levy cap law would have limited the town’s tax increase for 2017 to $475,000. Supervisor Sean Walter said complying with that restriction would have required $1.3 million in cuts from next year’s budget.

Mr. Walter has claimed the low tax levy limit required by the state is due to debt payments related to the previous administration’s landfill reclamation project.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Ms. Giglio said she had misgivings about the budget because raises were given to “several employees, including ones we’re not contracted to.”

“I think that we should have made an attempt to at least make some cuts in the budget,” she said, adding that her suggestions were not endorsed by the board.

But Councilman John Dunleavy praised the spending plan put forward by Mr. Walter.

“I think this is the tightest budget the supervisor could have made,” he said. “It’s going to help us out on our bond rating.”

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