Despite the fact that the budget that goes into effect on June 1 is $916,000 higher than last year’s, Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman was upbeat in his message to village residents about the need for the increase.
In a detailed, seven page statement distributed at last week’s board of trustees meeting where the budget was unanimously adopted after a very short public hearing, the mayor gave what amounted to a state–of-the-village report.
The 2014-15 budget was listed at $9,353,640. Next year’s will be $10,265,694.
In his statement, the mayor pointed out that over 80 percent of the village’s road repaving and rebuilding program that has been ongoing for several years has been completed. He also focused on the progress that’s been made on the 191-unit luxury AvalonBay apartment project on East Shore Road, reporting that the site has been cleared of oil tanks and the old building and that soil remediation has started.
Additionally, according to the mayor, the Avalon builders will pay $885,000 to the village as part of a state incentives program that will turn the money into improvements in the village. Half of the money will be given to the village soon, upon issue of a building permit. The other half will be due upon issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
Kreitzman’s message also mentioned the recent rezoning of Middle Neck Road and Steamboat Road to help revitalize the business district, plans to build a new Department of Public Works/Village Hall by selling the old DPW facility and selling Village Hall for use by the Great Neck School District.
In beginning the hearing, Kreitzman deferred reading the budget statement into the record but took the opportunity to explain the process of constructing next year’s fiscal plan.
“The process for adopting a budget…starts in January,” the mayor began, “where our clerk-treasurer (Joe Gill) reviews the year to date, projects the balance of the year, sends data and materials to all of our department heads and collects it back.”
“So,” he continued, “this isn’t just something that we arrived at today. It’s a long process. It’s a very difficult process.”
There were only a few residents in attendance. Kreitzman did mention that the budget proposal had been available from the Village for several weeks.
Resident David Zielenziger was the only one to address the board. He asked several questions about figures in the budget and received acceptable answers.
As to why the budget was being increased, part of Kreitzman’s message read: “The past several years have been difficult for local governments and we are not an exception. In addition to the ever increasing costs of providing government services, we have been subjected to…continuing or significant increases in pension, health insurance and other unfunded state mandated costs.”
The village has 37 employees. The budget calls for a 2.5 percent salary increase for them.
While stating that an increase to the budget was unavoidable, the mayor did rationalize the increase (the average house will now pay $203 a month in taxes to the village) in his message.
“Most people pay almost that (monthly) for just cable, Internet and home telephone service,” he wrote. “And they pay more than $234 per month in taxes just for county police protection.”
The mayor also listed a number of services funded by village taxes, including fire protection, road and street maintenance and garbage collection in support of his feeling that residents would be receiving value for their payments.
In last year’s message he wrote that the average monthly tax payment was $176 to the village. The police figure was $209.
The complete budget proposal and Mayor Kreitzman’s message are available on the village website (www.greatneckvillage.org).