ISLIP TOWN

Town approves 2021 operating and capital budgets

The average homeowner will see $33.51 annual hike on the town portion of tax bill, officials say

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Property taxes for Islip residents will spike next year after town officials worked to create a budget which considers the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Islip Town officials unanimously approved the town’s 2021 preliminary operating and capital budgets at a town board meeting Thursday, Nov. 5. It means a 5.83 percent increase per average Islip homeowner.

The town’s $248 million budget includes roughly $3.6 million in expenditures, an increase of 1.47 percent, town comptroller Joseph Ludwig said. If the budget were to be tax cap-compliant, officials would have had to cut roughly $2 to $3 million in services.

The average Islip homeowner will see a $33.51 annual increase on the town portion of the tax bill – an overall increase of 5.83 percent in that tax section.

Ludwig said due to the efforts of the pandemic, there were unanticipated revenues that need to be integrated into next year’s budget.

The cost increases are tied to the pandemic, cleanup costs due to Hurricane Isaias, a projected 20 percent cut in state aid for highway funding and aid to municipalities, and projected spikes in state health care and pension costs.

Last month, town officials announced an anticipated $41.83 annual increase for homeowners. Town supervisor Angie Carpenter said the Comptroller’s Office and town representatives were able to narrow it down to $33.51, just shy of $3 per month, Carpenter said.

At the budget hearing prior to the vote, Doris Stickelman, of Central Islip, urged town officials not to raise taxes in the town. Stickelman recommended officials cancel local programs to offset the cost.
“I don’t think it’s going to help anybody,” Stickelman said. “This is just the beginning. All our other taxes are going to be raised, we’re going to be hit hard.”

Carpenter said she has heard the outcry from several residents who said they do not want a tax increase – and said she feels the same.

“We would all love not to have a tax increase,” Carpenter said. “But there comes a time when you need to be responsible and you need to do the right thing, and this budget maintains our commitment to good, fiscal stewardship to our residents, despite the challenges that we have been confronted with in 2020.”

Approximately $147.6 million of the budget will be directed to the General Fund, Highway Fund and the services outside villages next year.

Councilman James O’Connor briefly reviewed the budget process with Ludwig during the meeting. Ludwig said commissioners meet in June to begin preparing budgets. The Office of the Comptroller reviews the budgets in July.

Islip’s tentative budget was presented to the town board by the town clerk at the Sept. 15 town board meeting, prior to the state-mandated Sept. 30 deadline. When it was filed with the clerk, it morphed into the preliminary budget.

As The Suffolk County News previously reported, Islip did not receive any direct funding from Suffolk County or aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, said town spokesperson Caroline Smith, unlike neighboring town of Hempstead.

Despite the challenges, Islip Town has maintained its AAA credit rating, Carpenter said, which allows the town to continue infrastructure improvements to roadways, parks, beaches and more at a borrowing rate of 0.29 percent.

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