East Williston adopts $2.4 million budget

James Galloway

The East Williston Board of Trustees unanimously approved its $2.4 million budget proposal, which stays the tax levy and remains below the state-mandated property tax cap, following a brief public hearing Monday.

The board also decided against passing a local law to allow the village to exceed the state property tax cap, which East Williston Mayor David Tanner said will net residents a small tax refund.

“It’s another benefit of conservative budgeting and fiscal management and being part of a community that people want to move into and that people are attracted to,” said Tanner, who was sworn in to another term following the hearing. “And we hope our residents will get what they’re entitled to, so we want to be a part of that.”  

As mandated by law, a stenographer was present at the hearing, though her workload was light – nobody from the public asked a question, despite Deputy Mayor Bonnie Parente’s nudges to her children to pose a question.

The village had, however, developed the budget at a series of public workshops and sought public input beforehand.

The village’s budget stays the tax levy for the second-consecutive year, capitalizing on grants and an operating surplus from the current fiscal year. The tentative tax rate would decrease slightly to $85.3 from $87.01, a 1.94 percent reduction.

The adopted budget also nearly doubles the village’s funding for capital projects, something Tanner said was a good investment in a strong fiscal year because of a capital project’s longevity.

“A capital project has a long, useful life,” he said.

The projects include repaving the sidewalks and planting trees on Williston Avenue and reconstructing the communications center in the fire department.

This 2015-16 adopted budget increases spending for the next fiscal year by $101,446 from the 2014-15 budget, a 4.2 increase. However, revenue for the current fiscal year is projected to exceed initial expectations, while expenses are projected to be lower.

Tanner, a financial consultant to local governments, said that recurring revenues in the village exceed recurring costs, a sign of fiscal strength, while the village continues to offer services like Little League and a library that make East Williston an attractive place to live.

“I think we did an excellent job once again with keeping the budget even and bringing more with less,” Parente said.

Following the hearing, Tanner and Parente were both sworn into their respective offices.

Both won uncontested races for re-election. A third candidate, James Iannone, also won an uncontested race for the seat of former Trustee Caroline DeBenedittis, who decided not to seek re-election; however, Iannone was unable to attend.

“Thank you to our residents. I don’t take this job for granted,” Tanner said. “I do my best as mayor to give every [trustee] a chance to experience different aspects of the village, so they can be the best public servants they can become.”  

DeBenedittis received a plaque from the village board in honor of her service. Parente had previously said DeBenedittis represents the “epitome of what is great about living in East Williston.”

“I had a lovely time being on the board here with everyone,” DeBenedittis said. “I know that Jim Iannone, who’s coming to take my spot, will do a great job, so everything will run smoothly.”

Correction: Due to a typing error, an article in the April 3 issue of the Williston Times mistakenly said the Village of East Williston’s tentative tax rate would decrease by 1.90 percent under the 2015-16 budget. It would in fact decrease by 1.944 percent, as reflected by the yearly tax rates included in the article.

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