The Town of Oyster Bay town board recently approved their 2020 budget of $306.5 million, which is up from $299.9 million. It passed by a vote of 6-1, with Councilman Anthony Macagnone dissenting.
“I am proud of the many milestones this administration has reached in returning fiscal stability to the Town of Oyster Bay,” said Supervisor Joseph Saladino in a press release sent out by the town. “In partnership with the town board, we have instilled fiscal discipline and eliminated over $24 million in deficits left behind by the prior administration. We now have a surplus rather than a deficit.”
The overall tax levy for the town will remain flat as the $1.3 million property tax cut remains in place from 2018. The continuing tax freeze is an effort to reduce the debt of the town and keep spending to a minimum. The debt increased this year to $724.5 million as of July, which is up from $672.3 million at the end of 2018. The plan is to lower debt by $160 million in 2020 and by $190 million in 2021.
“We have also reduced a significant amount of long-term debt while cutting property taxes and making smart investments in our roadways,” said Saladino. “Our overall success was recognized by two Wall Street firms which upgraded the town’s credit rating and its financial outlook.”
The town’s accumulated deficit has gone down since its peak in 2015 ($44.6 million) and, as of the end of 2018, the town had a surplus of $8.2 million, according to the town. In the same light, revenue has increased for the town thanks to a rise in commuter parking fees and an increase in building permits issued, among other things.
“Due to rapidly improved financial health, there has been no borrowing for cash-flow purposes in 2019 and the Town of Oyster Bay will not borrow a single dime for cash flow purposes in 2020 as per this town budget,” according to the town spokesperson.
Another element of the budget is that the town will continue to reduce the workforce. The town will save $9 million in full-time salaries thanks in part to eliminating positions and saving the town what they would have to spend on salary and pensions. While the workforce is going down, the town says it is hiring more town employees instead of outside contractors and consultants.
The news of the budget approval comes a month after New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli included the town as one of the 12 municipalities in the state on the verge of “significant fiscal stress” with a score of 70, the fifth worst score on the island. The system uses yearly financial reports that had been submitted by local governments.