Great Neck Estates approves 2019-20 budget, marijuana ban

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Great Neck Estates passed its budget and a ban on recreational marijuana on Monday night. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Great Neck Estates passed its budget and a ban on recreational marijuana on Monday night. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Village of Great Neck Estates approved a $9.86 million budget on Monday night, as well as restrictions on the sale of recreational marijuana in the village.

The budget is $359,133, or about 3.78 percent, higher than the current $9.5 million budget. The tax levy is increasing from just shy of $7.75 million to $7.9 million, a difference of almost 1.95 percent, or $150,975.

“Keeping our increases to a low level like that is quite an achievement since we have police and public works and village staff,” Mayor William Warner said in a telephone interview on Tuesday, adding that many other villages don’t offer that level of service.

Warner also said that ever since New York implemented a 2 percent property tax cap, the village has never pierced it.

The budget’s increase appears driven by the Police Department budget increasing from $2.81 million to $3.18 million, a difference of $371,913, or 13.22 percent. Employee benefit expenditures are meanwhile expected to rise 2.01 percent, or $46,363, from about $2.3 million to $2.35 million.

According to the new budget, Great Neck Estates will be paying $353,998 toward debt. This is $73,768 less than the $427,766 in the current budget, or a difference of just under 17.25 percent.

The village’s Transportation Department budget is also decreasing from $517,385 to $493,774, a difference of 4.56 percent. The change is concentrated in the street maintenance budget, which is decreasing from $306,582 to $287,735, or $18,847.

While overall assessed value decreased in the village from $1.46 billion to just under $1.39 billion, the assessment rate increased from 0.5297 per $100 in assessed value to 0.5694 per $100 assessed value.

The village also anticipates a $133,159 increase from $1.5 million to just shy of $1.64 million in revenue from other sources overall and plans to appropriate $325,000 in fund balance, a $75,000 increase from the current budget.

The Board of Trustees also passed a zoning law, first introduced near the end of February, barring any property within the village from selling or dispensing any substance that is illegal under state or federal law, including recreational marijuana.

Warner said that while counties and cities were given the opportunity to “opt out” of recreational marijuana sales under a state proposal that would legalize sales in New York, towns and villages were not given that option.

“[It’s] a way of saying ‘no’ without opting out,” Warner said, adding that the law could end up more “symbolic” if the federal government changes the drug’s classification.

The law’s passage follows Nassau County signaling its intent to opt out of recreational marijuana sales, anticipating that New York State will legalize the drug. The Town of North Hempstead and other North Shore villages have also moved to change their zoning laws to regulate recreational marijuana.

“It was just something that was on everybody’s radar,” Warner said.

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