By Holly Crocco
Southeast Town Supervisor Tony Hay has proposed a 2024 budget that raises taxes 9 percent. While this may seem like a large increase, the outgoing supervisor said the actual dollar amount is less jarring.
“I’m not one to say ‘It’s only this much,’ but let me tell you about the other towns,” he said at the Sept. 28 Southeast Town Board meeting, when he presented his 12th and final town budget.
Hay explained that Carmel residents pay about $1,764 in yearly taxes, residents in Kent pay $2,420, Patterson residents pay $1,700, those in Philipstown pay $3,999, and Putnam Valley residents pay $1,692 in yearly taxes, while Southeast residents pay $704.
“So, we’re more than half below,” he said. “So what sounds like a big increase – and 9 percent is big, don’t get me wrong – but dollar-wise it’s not as much.”
The 9 percent increase will equate to about $4.50 more per month for homeowners.
Unlike previous years, he said the town is experiencing a lot of employee turnover and has to hire additional personnel. This includes half an employee for each the Tax Department and Town Clerk’s Office, as well as a full-time director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, in addition to a full-time recreation leader and two part-time assistants.
This need came about when the recreation and facilities departments merged. “The duties of the two departments have increased substantially the past several years and the departments’ programs run several days a week and many evenings,” explained Hay.
Also, the Building Department requested a full-time assistant building inspector to handle the increased need for zoning code enforcement.
Other factors driving up the budget include health insurance for the 46 full-time employees of the town. In 2024, the town will need to pay $1.2 million in health insurance costs, an increase of 7 percent from the current year, according to Hay.
“Highway materials are through the roof,” he added. “Some that have risen as high as 25 to 40 percent.”
A 2.75 percent salary increase is budgeted, as well as a 3 percent increase in the garbage contract.
The proposed budget doesn’t use any money from the town’s reserve fund.
“If you try to balance a budget with your surplus, you’re using money that’s a one-shot deal, and then next year, the next supervisor will have to make up for what we’re borrowing this year from our own self, that we’re losing, and it will continue down the road,” said Hay.
The town board will go over the proposed budget before the next meeting Oct. 12, when changes may be proposed.