The Great Neck Park District Board of Commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a $17,553,088 budget for 2015 that raises spending by $740,000 or 4.4 percent over 2014 but does not call for an increase in the tax levy .
“This is a good budget,” said Dan Nachmanoff, chairman of the Great Neck Park District Board of Commissioners. “There’s no increase in taxes, or fees and it allows us to maintain our parks in a safe manner.”
The budget still requires the approval of the Town of North Hempstead, which will cast its vote on the budget at its Nov. 18 meeting, park district officials said.
Speaking at a public hearing on the budget, Great Neck Park District Superintendent Peter Rennick said the increase in spending was partly a result of the state-mandated increase in the minimum wage.
“Every year it keeps growing,” Rennick said. “And we’re one of the biggest employers for seasonal jobs.”
The budget calls for salaries of park district employees to increase $275,665 over 2014 to $7,512,929. Total salaries for park district administrators will also increase in 2015, according to the budget, from $1,049,124 to $1,106,674.
Park district attorney Christopher Prior said park commissioners will also receive a pay raise as a result of a requirement that special district commissioners receive $100 for per-diem work, up from $80 last year.
But Nachmanoff said in response to a question from a resident the commissioners are only paid if they perform district-related work. He said the commissioners do not take advantage of the $25,000 a year they’re allowed to receive per year.
“None of us have used the maximum we’re entitled to,” he said.
Nachmanoff said that district revenue have increased as a result of non-tax revenues, such as the agreement between the district and Shop Delight Glatt Kosher Supermarket that allows for customers to use the district-owned Shoreward Drive parking lot at Welwyn Road across the street from the supermarket from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then from 7 p.m. until the store closes.
Shop Delight owner Eddie Yakubov has said he will pay the park district about $52,000 a year for use of the lot.
The budget calls for park district revenue to increase from $3,572,808 now to $4,020,633 in 2015 – a $447,825 increase.
While most residents at Thursday’s public hearing expressed overall support for the budget, some residents questioned several aspects of the budget.
Great Neck resident Jean Pierce questioned why the budget called for a $3,500 increase for postage, and suggested that park officials use other forms of communication.
“You have e-mail and social media,” Pierce said.
Rennick said that many senior citizen who live within the park district residents do not use e-mail and that park district officials are legally obligated to send certain items out through regular mail.
Great Neck resident David Zielenziger also asked if park district officials see how many people attended certain district programs and events, so that they can budget for future events the next year.
Park district officials responded that they track attendance and park district events and keep that number in mind when constructing the budget.
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