The following is a note from Lake Grove Mayor Robert Scottaline …

As most are already aware, we are operating under the New York State Tax Cap.  The tax cap applies to all independent school districts and all local governments outside of New York City, and is intended to capture the broad range of property taxes levied in New York.

The so called two percent tax cap is a bit misleading. As per the guidelines, we actually were only permitted this year to have an increase of much less than one percent. While this may appear to be a positive thing to most of us paying extremely high taxes to live on Long Island, to a  Village it is an extremely challenging financial hardship.  Villages operate for the most part with a very strict budget and see little of the high taxes paid by most.  I encourage all Village residents to look at their Village tax bills. After deducting the fees for garbage removal which is paid out to those who are contracted vendors, the balance is what the Village has to work with.

The cost of paving roads, concrete for sidewalks and aprons, sand and salt for snow removal, fuel for trucks, and employee benefits continue to rise. With a budget that has no fat to cut, we started a few years back getting as creative as possible to cut spending.  Older, less efficient vehicles were replaced with new energy efficient vehicles. Solar panels, waste oil burners and metal recycling all helped in lessening the pain of the cap. Lighting fixtures at  Village Hall have been replaced or retrofitted to use bulbs requiring less energy for the same amount of lighting. HVAC systems have been upgraded and thermostats settings are set to be as efficient as possible while still providing employees with adequate comfort.

We are also taking a close look at how employees will be replaced going forward as full time employees retire. Promotions unfortunately are put on hold, while negotiating bargaining agreements are more difficult each year to find compromise that will be fair to both employer and employee.

No one wants to hear that we can no longer provide all of the services that we have grown accustomed to. No one wants to hear that we are going to vote to exceed the tax cap. The reality is, that we are running out of options and the Governor’s cap is hurting local government. That is, the level of government provided by those living within our communities. Those that care most about our communities and those working the hardest for our communities.

We will continue to conserve, operate at a high level of efficiency,  maintain services and stay within the limits of the tax cap as long as possible.