Village adopts 2015-16 budget

New spending plan will raise taxes $100 for average household

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It’s official — the average Rockville Centre homeowner will pay $100 more in village taxes next year. In a meeting that was not televised, the board of trustees adopted the 2015-16 budget on April 1.

The only people at the public meeting, which was held in the mayor’s office, were village officials and a few members of the Citizens Advisory Budget Committee, which reviews the spending plan and makes recommendations. The budget, which has the smallest tax rate increase in 15 years, 2.83 percent, had to be approved by May 1.

At the meeting, village comptroller Michael Schussheim discussed the “double-edged sword” of low interest rates — while the village is able to issue bonds and pay them back at very low interest rates, there is also a lower return on its investments. “The village, like all municipalities in New York state, is governed by New York state law, which specifies how we invest our money,” Schussheim said. “And our investment ability is very, very limited, and we can only invest in very, very conservative investments, basically limiting ourselves to commercial banks.”

He added that while the village expected to generate $53,000 in interest earnings in the next fiscal year, those earnings were much bigger in fiscal year 2007 — nearly $316,000.

In a letter, members of the Citizens Advisory Budget Committee congratulated the village for increasing its fund balance, or unassigned money and savings, to a total of $3.1 million, and for its improved bond rating. Committee members told the board, however, that they were concerned about tax revenues funding more of the budget and the increasing cost of bond debt service, which accounts for close to 10 percent of the budget.

“… [A]t 10 percent … we felt that it was getting to be a size within the budget that would put further pressure on it,” said committee member Ralph Bumbaca. “We’ve seen that over the last two years, even with the low-interest-rate environment, where the additional debt for the projects has created a little bit of stress there.”

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