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Supervisor unveils tentative 2020 budget with 2.5% tax levy hike

The tentative 2020 Riverhead Town budget presented by Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith Monday calls for a 2.5% tax levy increase and a 1.17% increase in spending.

The proposed budget also increases the tax rate by 2.58%.

For a home with an assessed value of  $50,000 — which equates to market rate of $404,858 — the difference would amount to $71.55 more in taxes under the three rates paid by all taxpayers: general, highway and street lighting.

The three funds would bring spending to $59,757,300. However, the town also has a number of other funds that are not paid into by all taxpayers, such as the water district, sewer district and community preservation fund.

Including those, the total town funding comes to $100,390,400, an increase of 2.76%.

Generally, town taxes account for about 30% of overall property taxes, second to school districts, which amount to 60%.

Ms. Jens-Smith said the budget stays under the state tax levy cap while providing essential additional services and improvements to the town’s infrastructure.

“This budget gives our employees the tools to best do their job by investing $1 million in long neglected town infrastructure and capital improvements,” Ms. Jens-Smith said in her budget message. The budget, she said, invests in the town’s personnel, technology and infrastructure, she said.

The proposal will give code enforcement three new cars and will allow that department to determine where to add additional code enforcement officers or additional clerical stuff.

The town’s three top employee unions — the Police Benevolent Association, Superior Officers Association and Civil Service Employees Association — all have contracts in place for 2020, she said.

Also, Ms. Jens-Smith said the proposed budget switches all town street lighting to LED bulbs, which she said will save $4 million over the life of the lights while cutting greenhouse gases.

The town also will be able to begin to update its comprehensive plan under the proposed budget, the supervisor said.

The budget must now be reviewed by the full Town Board, which must schedule a public hearing.

That hearing usually takes place the day after Election Day, although it is not required to.

The full Town Board can make changes to the budget, and by law, must adopt a final budget by Nov. 20.

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