Public safety dominates Kings Point budget again

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The Kings Point Police Department makes up nearly half of the village's $17.32 million budget. (Chart from Kings Point budget)
The Kings Point Police Department makes up nearly half of the village's $17.32 million budget. (Chart from Kings Point budget)

Kings Point trustees adopted the village’s 2018-19 budget Monday night, with nearly half of the $17.32 million total going toward police salaries and benefits.

Overall the budget is increasing $496,572.12 from $16.83 million in 2017-18, a boost of roughly 2.9 percent.

The village lowered its tax levy rate from $39.78 per $100 of assessed value on property to $39.30 while the taxable assessed valuation of properties went up from $37.7 million to $39.11 million. This translates to an overall tax levy decrease from $15 million to $14.98 million.

Property taxes make up about 86 percent of the village’s revenue.

The increase in the budget is largely paid for by revenue aside from real estate taxes, which is budgeted to increase to $2.04 million from $1.53 million. The village also plans to use $300,000 in appropriated cash surplus.

According to a copy of the budget, $5.12 million is going toward pay for the police commissioner, lieutenant, five sergeants, 13 police officers and two dispatchers, and retroactive retirement payments. This includes $4.37 million in standard salary and $750,000 in overtime, holiday and other pay.

There is also a $200,000 line item for termination pay.

Under the 2018-19 budget, Police Commissioner George Banville’s salary is slated to rise $11,596 from $236,080 to $247,676. The collective pay of the village’s five sergeants will increase from $847,399.28 to $890,797, while its dispatchers will see their total salary go up $9,455 from $142,090 to $151,545.

The overall cost of its 13 police officers will decrease $338,179.74 from $2.27 million to $1.93 million, the budget suggests, but retroactive and retirement pay will increase from $600,000 to $925,000 – a $325,000 increase.

Police officers will also receive $2.65 million in benefits from the village, according to the budget, with $1.25 million going toward state retirement costs, $835,000 toward statewide health insurance, $255,000 to Social Security and $235,000 to workers’ compensation.

The other benefits include life insurance, PBA retirement fund, dental and optical service, and education, totaling $76,000.

According to the budget, there is also $60,000 in equipment costs for camera maintenance and miscellaneous items, as well as $139,000 in extra expenses like uniforms, auto repairs, supplies, travel and a pistol range.

Taken together, according to a chart in the back of the budget, police department expenses make up 49 percent of the budget.

George Banville, the commissioner of the Kings Point Police Department, said the  department’s budget is primarily a determination of the Board of Trustees and that the department is focused on working in the area.

“It involves aided cases, traffic cases, looking out for the schools like we’ve always done … just looking out for the welfare of the public,” Banville said on Tuesday.

Of crime rates in the area, Banville said Kings Point is “generally pretty quiet.”

“It’s such a small area, it’s a dead end peninsula, it’s not really ripe for the picking like when you’re in the middle somewhere,” Banville said.

Michael Kalnick, the mayor of Kings Point, was not available for comment on Tuesday but previously told Blank Slate Media that having a local police department carries many benefits and that salaries are determined through negotiations between the village and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

“The residents of Kings Point benefit from around-the-clock police patrols and protection, resulting in an extremely effective deterrent against crime and an average response time of less than two minutes,” Kalnick said of the salaries. “Residents benefit from more personal interaction with members of the department, such as the ability to notify the police if they are going out of town for an extended period.”

Three members of the Kings Point police were ranked third, seventh and tenth among the highest paid village police officers statewide in 2017, according to the Empire Center’s database of salaries, but did not crack the top 10 when factoring in all police departments.

The second biggest expense in the $7.33 million public safety budget is fire service, which is slated to cost $1.57 million. The biggest part of this is a $1.44 million contract for fire protection services with the Alert Fire Company, which services villages north of the Long Island Rail Road.

There is also a line item for $135,000 in fire hydrant rentals. Safety inspection costs account for $237,500.

Taken together, police, fire and ambulance costs make up 59 percent of the 2018-19 budget. The next biggest expense is debt service, at $2.25 million – or 13 percent of the village’s total budget.

The rest of the budget goes towards administrative, maintenance, public works, garbage and tree removal, Building Department, professional and court costs.

This budget nearly mirrors the previous budget, which featured a decrease in assessed valuation and tax rate. Police Department expenses also made up about half the $16.8 million budget, with fire and ambulance services making up another 10 percent. After public safety, debt service was also the second biggest expense, making up 12 percent of that budget.

The full 2018-19 budget, which services more than 5,000 residents, can be found online here.

Other villages on the Great Neck peninsula with their own police departments include Great Neck Estates, Lake Success and Kensington, which also take up pluralities of their respective budgets.

In Great Neck Estates, for example, at least $3.38 million of the recently adopted $9.5 million budget goes towards the Police Department and its retirement benefits.

Lake Success, which will have a hearing on its proposed $14.92 million budget on April 21, meanwhile, appears slated to dedicate roughly 40.3 percent – or $6.01 million – of its budget towards its Police Department between salaries, retirement, benefits and a termination fund.

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