The Village of East Hills Board of Trustees approved a $12.7 million 2017-18 budget this month that keeps taxes flat for the seventh straight year.
“Containing taxes is a must,” East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said in a statement. “This is a challenge that has been met; even in a climate of raising health care costs, unfunded mandates like cleaning Glen Cove Road, higher costs and increased labor costs.”
The budget, passed at a Board of Trustees meeting on April 5, covers almost one-fifth of anticipated village costs by spending $2,248,011 from the village surplus reserves, which totaled approximately $4.6 million before the action, Koblenz said.
Koblenz said if the village had not spent money from its reserves it would have exceeded the New York state maximum a village can keep on hand.
“We keep services the same and return the money in a fashion by not increasing taxes,” he said.
“Why don’t you ask about the school surplus? I didn’t borrow $42 million dollars,” Koblenz added, referring to a $41.3 million infrastructure improvement bond for the Roslyn School District that won voter approval in 2014.
The village projects it will raise $8,187,679, or 64 percent of the budget, from property taxes and $1,363,900, or 11 percent of the budget, from departmental income.
“I have a surplus because I built it up,” he added. “We’ve had a lot of housing construction, there’s village court and building permits.”
He said the village may add to its surplus reserves by the end of the 2017-18 budget, due primarily to continued home construction.
“The way I see the real estate market people are knocking down and building,” he said. “Those permits are very expensive — demolition permit, construction permit. If you’re building a 6,000-square-foot house that’s a nice permit fee that goes to the village. Those add up.”
The largest expenses in the budget include street maintenance for $1,856,555, or 15 percent of the budget, culture and recreation for $1,373,5000, or 11 percent of the budget, and fire department contracts for $1,026,000, or 8 percent of the budget.
“I look at every bill and every invoice,” Koblenz said.
In February, East Hills received an Aa1 credit rating, the highest score offered by the rating firm Moody’s Investors Service.
“We will work to ensure we always receive one of the finest evaluations on the stress tests for the financial condition of the village,” Koblenz said in a statement.