August Village Board Work Session

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Village Board Work Session

The usually short mid-month Trustees meet­ing lasted over 1½ hours this evening, one of two remarkable aspects of the Work Session.

The other was the fact that Trustee Hank Tucker not only didn't babble when he opened his mouth, but he came across as lucid and substantive, a first in recent memory.

(No speculation is offered as to what might have changed.)

The reason for the uncommon duration was the number of invited speakers with presentations before the Village Board.

Assemblyman and former Village Attorney and Southampton Town Supervisor Fred Thiele, Jr., was there to offer his views on how New York State's new two-percent cap legislation will affect the municipality.

Under the new law, Westhampton Beach's tax levy rate cannot exceed two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

This may prove a daunting task come budget time next year, even for fiscally conservative Mayor Conrad Teller, as this year's budget, notably devoid of "pork," incurred an increase of just under 6%, from $2.53 to $2.68.

One avenue of potential savings might involve reducing health care costs, to which end three representatives of East End Health Plan made a pitch to the Board.

EEHP, presently incorporating a dozen East End school districts (including Westhampton Beach and Remsenburg-Speonk and East­ern Suffolk BOCES), might realize $60,000 in an­nual savings over the current program in which the Village is enrolled.

(That wouldn't do the 2% tax rate cap by itself, but it'd help.)

Another presentation was made by Kyle Collins who made the Board aware of a 15-year-old Suffolk County program designed to spur new development by offering a tax exemption for commercial enterprises who build or make im­provement to their property that total at least $50,000.

Dubbed the Industrial/Commercial Incentive Plan, the tax exemption would be based on the assessment of the property's tax value when the improvements are completed.

Collins, who acts as the Village Planner, en­visioned the plan as being a useful "tool" to certain commercial parcels in Westhampton Beach which might need a financial incentive to "upgrade."

The tax reduction would be graduated over a ten year period, and properties mentioned which might benefit from such a program included:

  • the bowling alley on Sunset Avenue,
  • the razed automotive repair shop just North of the Valeo station on Old Riverhead Road,
  • the site of the former gas station on the corner of Library Avenue and Main Street.

As an incentive for the Village to move on this, Collins noted that if those areas were not developed, "the assessments will drop and the Village will lose money," adding that the municipality must make a decision by October in order to participate in the program.

An informal presentation was made by David Fox of Fox Land Surveying on behalf of the owner of the property at 103-105 Main Street, the former Weixelbaum's Market, having to do with a possible solution to the drainage prob­lem at the rear of the building.

The Work Session concluded at 8:35 pm.

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