Farmingville, NY - Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine announced his 2020 Tentative Operating Budget today. The structurally balanced budget increases the Town’s commitment to infrastructure, open space preservation, holds the line on taxes and spending, and uses no surplus funds in balancing any of the six major funds. The budget for fiscal year 2020 also marks:
- The second consecutive year that no fund balance is used to balance the budget for six major funds.
- The fourth consecutive year in which the Highway (Part Town) Fund has been structurally balanced without the application of Fund Balance.
- The fifth consecutive year, the budget proposes no use of fund balance in the General Fund.
Supervisor Romaine’s 2020 Tentative Operating Budget also complies with the Town’s Tax Rate Cap, the Town’s Spending and Debt Management Cap for the General Fund, and the New York State Property Tax Levy Cap, which is capped at 2.0% for fiscal year 2020.
Citing the Town’s strengthening financial position, Supervisor Romaine noted that during fiscal year 2018:
- The General Fund’s Total Fund Balance grew $6.5 million, or 10.3%, to $69.5 million.
- The two Highway Funds’ total fund balance increased $3.6 million, or 21.2%, from a balance of $17.2 million at the end of 2017, to $20.8 million at the end of 2018.
- Surpluses were also earned in both the Part Town General Fund as well as the Lighting District.
- Reserve levels were increased for Capital Improvements, Open Space, Debt Reserve, Snow Removal, and the Landfill Post Closure.
These positive results were recognized by the New York State Comptroller’s Office in their most recent Fiscal Stress Test reporting, where the Town’s score declined from 19.2 in 2016 to 6.7 in 2017 to 5.0 in 2018, all indicating “No Designation” of Stress. Earlier this month, Moody’s Financial Services, citing “continued strong financial management,” upgraded the Town of Brookhaven to a AAA credit rating. In June of this year, Standard & Poor’s re-affirmed their AAA credit rating for Brookhaven.
A corresponding positive result of achieving structural balance is that Fund Balances in the major Tax Districts have grown significantly. This has allowed the Town to strengthen and create dedicated Reserves for Public Improvements, Open Space, Snow, Landfill Post-Closure and Vehicle Replacement. The Post-Closure Landfill Reserve increased to $10 million at the end of 2018, a $2.9 million increase over 2017, and with the increase in 2019 of the Landfill Tipping Fee Surcharge, it is expected to grow to at least $22 million by the time the landfill closes in 2024.
A strong performance in the Part Town General Fund enabled the Town Board to transfer $2 million to the Highway Fund for additional road paving in 2019, and a low snowfall allowed for a $700 thousand transfer to fund required ADA sidewalk improvements. For the second consecutive year, no Fund Balance was used to balance the Refuse and Recycling (Garbage) Tax Districts. Residents in the Refuse and Recycling Districts will experience no increase in the annual $350 Garbage Rate for Fiscal Year 2020. In fact, the Refuse User Rate is 9.4% less than it was ten years ago.
The ability to deliver a structurally balanced budget in the six major Tax Districts for Fiscal Year 2020 was made possible by the success of another key strategic initiative: growth of Non-Property Tax Revenues and identification of new sources of revenue.
- Non-Property Tax Revenues, in the six major tax districts, have been increased by $5.1 million, or 4.1%, in the 2020 Tentative Operating Budget versus 2019 Adopted Budget (4 major funds = $5.7 mm increase, or 4.6%).
- Total revenues, for the six major tax districts in the 2020 Tentative Budget, are $281.7 million, of which Real Property Taxes represent $150.1 million, or 53.3%.
Conversely, expenditures, in the six major tax districts, are expected to grow $7.7 million, or 2.8% versus the 2019 Adopted Operating Budget, to a total of $281.7 million. In the 2020 Tentative Operating Budget (six major funds), Employee Compensation and Benefits represents 44.1% of the Town’s total spending, which is substantially no change from the 2019 Adopted Operating Budget.
Total Full-Time Town staffing in the 2020 Tentative Operating Budget remains almost constant with 2019, at 870 positions, and is consistent with the staffing levels over the last few years. The number of Full-Time employees in the Town has been reduced by 141 positions over the past decade, or 16.2%.
$20 Million Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Plan
Brookhaven Town was recently awarded a $20 million Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Plan (MCEP) grant by New York State. The Department of State recognized the Town’s MCEP Program as “a bold series of highly-impactful actions and consolidations that will benefit close to a half million people, reducing the size and expense of government while creating improving functional operations.” This grant is designed to modernize and transform the delivery of services while lessening the burden on taxpayers by reducing redundancy in local governments, pursuing opportunities for increasing shared services, and implementing modernizations and best practices.
Already, the Town has:
- Dissolved 17 special taxing districts, returning over $1 million back to the tax payers within these districts.
- Entered into over thirty new Inter-Municipal Agreements (IMAs) with our Incorporated Villages, School Districts and other special taxing districts. IMAs range from Tax Billing to Registrar of Vital Statistics, to Paving and Lighting installation.
- Implemented technology advancements to modernize and transform the delivery of services.
- Issued Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new Land Management System which will place the Building Division, Fire Prevention Division, our Law Department Investigators, Planning Department and other key departments on the same platform for improved communications and greater productivity, resulting in a more efficient operation and faster permitting.
- The RFP process also is under way for the Town to modernize its Financial System with an ERP solution and enhance the integration between Financials and Personnel and Timekeeping, as well as Purchasing.
The 2020 Tentative Operating Budget is a “cost to continue budget” that funds all existing constituent services, takes advantage of growing departmental revenues to mitigate Property Tax Levy increases, maintains Town staffing levels, and supports a safe community. Conservative fiscal management has kept the Town’s share of total local municipal taxes to 5.72% for the areas outside the Villages of the Town, and 3.93% for the Village areas, based upon the 2018-2019 Property Tax Warrant certified by the Suffolk County Legislature. Below is a depiction of which municipalities receive your property taxes.
- Uses No Fund Balance to balance the budget in the six major Tax Districts;
- Complies with the New York State Tax Levy Cap;
- Complies with the Town's Tax Rate and Spending Caps;
- Complies with the Town's Debt Management and Fund Balance Policies;
- Increases the Snow Removal Budget for the fourth consecutive year by 1.2%;
- Grows the Landfill Post-Closure Reserve by $1.6 million;
- Keeps the Garbage District Rate Flat at $350 annually;
- Maintains full-time staffing and all constituent services.
Supervisor Romaine and the Town Council will hold a special 2020 Budget Public Hearing on Thursday, November 7 at 5:00 in the auditorium at Town Hall, located at One Independence Hill in Farmingville. The Town of Brookhaven 2020 Budget must be adopted no later than November 20.
Division of Public Information * Office of the Supervisor
One Independence Hill • Farmingville • NY 11738 • Phone 631-451-6595