The Rockville Centre Village Board adopted its $40.7 million fiscal year 2013 budget on Tuesday, and the average village homeowner will pay $207 more in taxes.
The board voted 4-1 to override the two percent tax cap and 3-2 to pass the budget, with Trustees Ed Oppenheimer and Kevin Glynn voting against the fiscal plan.
Village Comptroller Mike Schussheim explained that rising pension costs and a decline in assessed home values made it nearly impossible for the village to stay within the two percent tax cap for the fiscal year 2013.
After constructing a budget with a tax rate increase of 6.97 percent, the board and department heads recently shaved another $23,000 out of the budget to get the tax rate to 6.76 percent.
"This was an extraordinarily challenging effort," said Deputy Mayor Nancy Howard. "Everyone with their hands in this did what they could to keep this as reasonable a budget as they can."
Though Glynn lauded the efforts of department heads and those involved in constructing the budget, he said a 6.76 percent increase over the current fiscal plan was too much for him to vote for. He did say that this year's approach to constructing the budget was "more civilized" than the prior board, who he said wanted to make "massive, unjustified cuts" to the fire department and senior services.
Oppenheimer said the village needed to do a better job of finding outside revenue. He added that he'd rather have the $23,000 recently cut from the budget restored because he called it, "a false token."
"We can't keep going in this direction," Oppenheimer said. "We have to find outside revenue sources or there's a distinct possibility that we have to cut services."
Trustee Mike Sepe said the board found new sources of revenue — he pointed to village deals with and the — and said those constructing the 2013 budget reviewed it line-by-line to squeeze out another $23,000.
"It's not a token number," Sepe said of the $23,000 recently shaved from the budget. "(Some say) we're nickel and diming, but they're not my nickels and dimes."
He added that the board's mission is to expand the tax base rather than increase the tax rate, which he said the village has tried to do. Sepe pointed to recent changes in the village building code that makes home renovations easier for residents, as well as the elimination of night time meter fees to spur commerce in the downtown.
"This was a Herculean effort...with a result I'm happy to support," he said.