The Town of North Hempstead (TONH) board conducted a second hearing on the preliminary budget for 2022. The proposed $156.8 million budget remains well below the tax cap with no cuts to services for residents. The budget plans to focus on investing in the Town’s parks and roads infrastructure to “ensure that residents have the best experience possible at town facilities.”
Tania Orenstein, the Town of North Hempstead Comptroller, gave a brief presentation which highlighted the changes to the budget.
“We distributed the 2022 preliminary budget to the town board members last week,” Orenstein said. “The preliminary budget stays within the state mandated tax cap and limits the impact on taxpayers while maintaining our current services. The changes are as follows, although the tentative budget included a five percent reduction in retirement costs, as noted in a press release by the State Comptroller, upon receipt of the 2023 projected retirement bill our savings were substantially greater than budgeted resulting in a projected townwide savings of $1.1 million. The largest impacted funds were the general fund with a savings of $618,000, the Town Outside Village (TOV) Fund with a savings of $412,000 and the sidewalk district fund with a savings of $33,000. An additional noteworthy change with the adding back of a vacancy in the parks department that was missed in the tentative version of the budget, which has a net impact of $94,000. This addition was offset by the removal of an administrative expense for the Solid Waste Management Authority as it is now being joined into the general fund of $177,000 since it is no longer necessary.”
Bosworth explained during the Oct. 21 meeting that it is the town’s responsibility to be both “cautious and sensible,” in their approach to the 2022 budget, while also ensuring that they keep taxes low for their residents. She further stated that the pandemic has played a major role in their finances throughout the last year.
“As I’ve mentioned so often throughout this project, our fiscal operations have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and I applaud my administration’s ability to adapt under the current circumstances as we thoughtfully work to balance the need for budgetary reductions, while continuing to provide essential services for our residents,” Bosworth said.
Bosworth further stated that the town will continue to prioritize the exemplary services that they offer such as Project Independence, their state-of-the-art parks and facilities such as the Yes We Can Community Center, while also not exceeding the New York State tax cap.
Although the pandemic put forth many obstacles and challenges, the town was able to maintain their AAA bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service.
“Our commitment to effective financial management was once again recognized by Moody’s Investors Service,” Bosworth said. “Moody’s again affirmed our town’s financial rating of AAA on Sept. 2. This is the 11th consecutive instance in which the town has maintained its triple A bond rating. That is the highest rating a municipality can obtain. In its credit opinion, Moody’s acknowledged that the stable outlook reflects the town’s conservative fiscal management practices, which will support continued healthy operating performance and maintenance of a strong financial position. I can assure you that we will maintain the same level of fiscal diligence in the coming year as well.”
Bosworth, who is retiring from her role as supervisor, stated in a press release following the meeting that she has always “put an emphasis on transparency, openness and integrity in government.”
“The final version of the budget will be presented for a vote on Oct. 28, which as we do, we vote on it before Election Day,” Bosworth said. “This process is in keeping with my administration’s commitment to open and transparent government and it is after all the blueprint of your town government and it shows how our tax dollars are being utilized.”
A vote on the budget by the Town Board will take place on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
Residents can view the meeting via livestream by visiting www.northhempsteadny.gov/townboardlive.