Village and Town Budgets Take Hit

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, January 15 released his executive budget proposal which eliminates funding from the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program for towns and villages in cases where the funding accounts for less than two percent of the municipal budget. This will eliminate a total of $16.4 million from 480 of the 531 villages in New York State

While I don’t consider this to be a political issue, our Village will lose one hundred percent of our funding. This amounts to $63,199 in New York State aid, along with the substantial cut we received last year. Although the amount received had been frozen for many years, we were still able to maintain services while staying within the tax cap requirements with the help of these funds.

Discussions with Town of Brookhaven Officials have verified that our Town will also be losing a substantial amount of funding from the State.

How much this will impact our budgets and services is yet to be realized.  We do not have any fat in our budgets to cut. While the math in the State budget may work at that level, there is obviously little concern about how it works at the lower levels providing very important services to our communities.

Year after year we struggle with unfunded mandates, rising labor costs and benefit payment increases. Paving expenses, garbage fees and the expenses incurred with snow removal continue to rise, while the State continues to hamper our efforts to stay afloat.

We need to remind our representatives at the State level that we need to be represented in a way that enable us to reap the benefits of the high taxes that we pay here on Long Island. While high taxes here have been a way of life for many years, most of us realized some of the benefits received from these payments. We cannot tolerate higher taxes at this point and certainly don’t want to see our services reduced in any way.

We will, with the help of the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), the Suffolk County Village Officials Association (SCVOA), and constant dialog with our State representatives continue to contest these injustices.

Robert J. Scottaline, Mayor, Incorporated Village of Lake Grove

What Happened with Notifications for Recycling Changes?

Dear Neighbors,

I want to apologize for any inconvenience and/or confusion that recently occurred with our Village recycling efforts.  As you may or may not have been aware, the Village had an inter-municipal agreement with the Town of Brookhaven for single-stream recycling. The contractor operating the facility for the Town had issues with the recycling entering the plant. Those purchasing the materials changed the specifications for the amount of allowable contamination. The buyers of the materials refused to accept what they once did.   Single stream became problematic and was abandoned by those operating the plant. We are returning to dual-stream recycling.

The Town had very little notice of the changes that were to take place, and therefore gave short notice to all that send their recycling to them.

Once the Village was informed, we immediately put a plan together to notify our residents. Three robo-call messages were sent to those on our list to be notified by phone.  All residents are welcome to be on that list. Please contact Village Hall for details (631-585-2000). A memo was placed on the Village website for those that look there for what’s happening in our community. The same memo was sent out to our printer.  Unfortunately, the printer had delays and returned it later than promised. Once received, it was promptly delivered to the post office for mailing and was delayed yet again.  The post office stated that they had an overwhelming amount of Amazon deliveries to be made. Our mailing was not delivered as expeditiously as we were told it would be and was sent out on a later date.

While this seems to have been what can be referred to as the “perfect storm,” I still apologize for any inconvenience that it might have caused during such a busy time of year. Going forward, we will continue to use as many forms of media as possible to get the word out to all of our residents. Communication is the key for any successful form of government, and we will do our best to always make you aware. Two-way communication is also very helpful and we appreciate you keeping us informed of any issues that you may have. Please check the website as often as you can for upcoming hearings, events, and informational memos.

As always, thank you for your support.

Robert J. Scottaline, Mayor

Letter from the Mayor: We Have to Ask Why

Dear Lake Grove Residents,

In my time as a Village Official and public servant, I have seen many changes in the way we work as a municipality and interact with other levels of government. Villages historically are very budget conscious and have been sharing services for the most efficient way to operate and get the most out of our tax dollars. While we are the level of government closest to the people, we are more connected to our constituents and share your concerns. We meet you on the soccer fields, in the local stores, in places of worship and while fueling up at neighborhood gas stations. For those reasons we are more accountable, as we should be in all of the decisions we make on a daily basis.  Most of all, we pay the same taxes at every level as those we represent.

The State, under the leadership of our Governor, has directed that we stay within a two percent tax cap each year, and due to the way the cap is calculated it has been as low as six tenths of a percent. We have managed to stay under the cap while the State continues increase the cost of things the Village is required to pay, such as pensions and benefits for our workers, as they continue to reduce our State Aid.

The County has cut deeply into the amount of revenue we receive in our Justice Court.   On April 1, 2013, the County established the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) in Hauppauge, in which all fines paid for traffic infractions, including those within the village’s jurisdiction, can go directly to the TVB instead of Village Courts. This has resulted in a significant loss of revenue to our Village and other villages within the County that have their own Justice Courts.

While upper levels of government continue to divest villages of revenue they once earned, received and have depended on to balance their budgets, we are asked to keep our taxes within the tax cap. The revenue forfeited to these upper levels of government make it appear as though they are doing a better job controlling their budgets, while the trickledown effect is actually just a tax shift resulting from the shifting of revenue.

Villages continue to be the most efficient form of government and can certainly do a much better job of stretching these funds that have been removed from our budgets. We have been resourceful in managing our budgets by continuing to share services, and being very cognizant of appropriately using the bidding and purchasing processes to our advantage.  In other words, we spend the money as if it were coming out of our own pockets; which in reality it actually is.

The Suffolk County villages do have a voice with the County and the State through the Suffolk County Village Officials Association (SCVOA) and through the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and will continue to work to retain as much revenue as we can through all legal avenues that exist. Our reserve funds are being depleted to the point where it will eventually start to affect the high level of services that we provide or result in tax increases due to the loss of revenue. It’s time for us to ask why we are being put in this position. A position, I think that more people need to be made aware of.

Robert J. Scottaline
Mayor

Incorporated Village of Lake Grove

2018 Lake Grove Harvest Fest

Thanks to everyone who made the 2018 Harvest Fest a success!

From the Mayor: A Positive Future

Dear Lake Grove Residents,

As we begin the next 50 years as an Incorporated Village, I am very confident about a positive future.

The formula for success has worked well in the past and has provided us with the wisdom that we need going forward.

Through the years of being an elected official and a public servant, I am quite aware of the importance of the relationships that you establish and maintain with other municipalities and layers of government. We have built strong alliances with the other Villages, the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials to provide for shared services that save taxpayer dollars by not duplicating services and expenses. We have Inter-municipal agreements and cooperative bidding processes that give us better purchasing power for contracting and equipment.

Going forward, we must expand on this theme and continue to work together as one, without giving up our individual identity. While working together benefits us all, it is important to keep a keen sense of why we incorporated as we did 50 years ago. Our local laws and codes must provide for what we believe is best to sustain and improve our quality of life issues. We must decide what is important to us as a community and legislate accordingly. Local laws which in many cases are more defined and enforced protect what we and those before us worked so hard to establish.

Villages are a level of government closest to the people.  The Village has three boards each consisting of five members. The Village Board which is made up of the Mayor and four Trustees, the Planning Board, and the Board of Appeals.  Each board plays a vital role in protecting our way of life and standard of living. Our local laws give us the authority needed to do just that.

We, your Village officials, are not political figures. I consider us to be public servants. While we might not always be in concurrence with each other, we always find common ground for the good of the Village. There is no place for politics at this level. I have worked with the Village Board for many years now and I am proud to call each member a colleague and a friend. That’s what makes it work so well. Most are all too aware of what occurs at other levels of government when camaraderie and solidarity do not exist.

A result of working together is the continuance of the positive trend. The Village has no debt. I am proud to say that while we have maintained a budget within the tax cap regulations for many years, we are still fiscally sound and continue to provide a high level of services.

My goal is that together, we carry this positive movement into the next 50 years. I will continue to work with all of my colleagues for as long as I can to bring that goal to fruition.  It has been a pleasure to work collectively with all of my colleagues on the Village Board and with both of our other very competent and qualified boards.

As always, thank you for your continued support and allowing me to serve our outstanding Village.

Robert (Bob) Scottaline

Mayor

Incorporated Village of Lake Grove