The Village of East Rockaway board of trustees adopted a $10.6 million 2019–20 budget with a $7.9 million tax levy on April 22.
The spending plan is $319,132 larger than the 2018-19 budget, with a tax levy that is 5.63 percent larger than the current year’s, and is over the state’s 2 percent tax cap. As a result, residents will pay $30.42 per $100 of their property’s assessed value.
Mayor Bruno Romano and village trustees attributed the tax increase to a loss of revenue coupled with an increase in expenses.
Romano also said there were certain expenses that he and the board decided they could not cut from the budget. For example, he said, the phone system at Village Hall is outdated and needs to be replaced, and certain vehicles need to be leased or repaired. Additionally, Romano said, village officials have tried to pave roads in-house, but some are so bad that they had to contract with an outside vendor.
“We’ve been trying to hold off on some of the equipment,” Romano explained. “But we’re at a certain point where it becomes not cost-effective because we’re putting more money into it than it costs.”
Other increases to the budget, board members said, arose from expenses that they had no control over, including a 9 percent increase in insurance costs and a 10 percent uptick in fire hydrant rental fees. Trustee Richard Bilello said the increase to hydrant rentals alone accounts for 2 percent of what the village collects in taxes, “so when you talk about the 2 percent tax cap, one increase eats up all of that.”
Fox added that he thought the board did a “very diligent job” analyzing the budget, and Trustee Steven Fried said it was increasingly difficult to delay certain expenditures. “There’s certain things we just can’t cut corners with,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”