Mayor’s Note: Village Tax Increase

Yes, unfortunately, Village taxes were increased this year.  While we have been proud to keep tax increases to a minimum over the years, this year was extremely difficult due to a tremendous loss in revenue.

While we were able to absorb a ($10,000.00) ten thousand dollar loss in State Aid last year, the over ($100,000.00) one hundred thousand dollar loss in State Aid this year due to the Governor’s budget cuts hit us extremely hard.  Apparently, the Governor must believe that we have a lot of excess to cut in our budget. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where is that loss in revenue supposed to be made up? It’s obvious that little thought or consideration was put into the decision to cut State Aid pretty much across the board for Long Island. While those in Albany have retained many millions of dollars from Long Island, to make it appear that they are doing a great job with money management, we in turn look bad for having to raise taxes.

Along with the redistribution of taxes at the State level, we also had a large loss of revenue with our recycling. We now receive no proceeds for our recycling materials. Whereas we previously had a contract for years with Brookhaven to be paid for recycling, we now receive nothing due to a lack of interest from those that purchase the recycling from the Town.

Yes, we raised taxes out of necessity, but a quick look at your Village tax bill can be deceiving. Part of the increase on the bill is for garbage removal and dumping fees, which is a pass-through. That money is for garbage removal only and is used for that purpose alone and is not part of taxes to maintain services. An increase in dumping fees due to the weight of the addition of glass, which is no longer accepted for recycling in our garbage is responsible for most of the increase. Removing the garbage fees from your tax bill and then comparing the balance to last year’s bill with garbage fees removed will give an accurate picture of how much your village taxes have increased.

In an effort to keep the increase as low as possible, we had to supplement our revenue side of the budget with a significant amount of money from surplus. These dollars that we keep in surplus are reserved for such adversities like the ones that have occurred this year. It is my hope that we don’t have to dig that deep again in the years to come. You can only go to the well so many time before it runs dry.

I apologize for any possible personal hardships that these increases may have caused and we will continue to do our best to keep our budgets as reasonable as possible while maintaining service to the highest standards that we can.

Working together with other Villages and Towns, we are letting our representatives in Albany know how displeased we are with their budgetary cuts and their lack of support for their constituents that pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.

Very Truly Yours,

Robert J Scottaline, Mayor

From the Mayor: Blighted Properties on Notice

Recently, the Village demolished two houses that have been a blight on the community for years.  Any expenditures involved in removing the structures have been added to the tax bills for those properties.  Changes in State laws now allow municipalities to hold banks and other lending institutions responsible for the condition of abandoned homes.  They are put on notice and given a reasonable amount of time to bring properties and structures into compliance with sanitary, aesthetic, and safety codes. The Village, through legal counsel, is vigilant in making sure that all parties have been notified. In the past, property owners played the shell game of passing these properties around trying to avoid code violations. That tactic is no longer tolerated. The tide has changed, and we now have the tools to deal with this issue.

Respectable homeowners who care for their homes and have an investment in their properties should not have to deal with run-down structures and properties devaluing and creating a blight on their neighborhoods.

Considering the value of homes on Long Island, it is hard to imagine why any person or establishment would allow these houses to fall into such disrepair. While it is understandable that some individuals don’t have the resources to maintain their homes to the high standards of others, it costs little to be neat and clean and maintain at least a minimum standard of curb appeal and safety.

Blighted properties can proliferate.  Neighbors of these homes can quickly become disenchanted with the neighborhood and lose enthusiasm for maintaining their own properties. We will not tolerate this in Lake Grove. Even homes that are occupied and keeping up with their payments must be in compliance with all Village, Town and State codes.

Let’s all work together to keep Lake Grove a beautiful and safe place to live.

Very Truly Yours,

Robert J. Scottaline

Mayor

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