The Setauket Fire District on Tuesday unveiled its proposed 2012 budget, which would raise the tax rate by about $1 per $1,000 of assessed home value if the board of fire commissioners approve it on Nov. 4.
The board of fire commissioners voted last week to override the 2 percent tax cap that state lawmakers passed in June. The proposed $5 million budget represents an increase of 9.79 percent – but despite the increase it still remains below its level from three years ago, thanks to budget cuts amounting to more than 30 percent over the past two years.
"A lot of fire districts are taking the option to overried the tax cap by a majority vote," said William Pollina, vice chairman of the board. "We were ahead of the curve before the tax cap was even implemented."
Like the Three Village Central School District and the library, some of the largest areas of increase in expenditures were mandated contributions to the state retirement system, health benefits, and employee salaries. The fire district will also see an increase of 67.5 percent in the area of service awards, which are long-term benefits that are designed to recruit, reward and retain volunteer firefighters based on length of service. That program was launched in 1990 following a public referendum.
The fire district has also planned for a $150,000 contribution to its reserves.
Pollina described the budget as a fiscally conservative one that facilitates "long term planning so that we minimize the impact to the taxpayers year after year."
The fire district also cut its contractual expenditures by 11 percent.
"We tried very hard given the 2 percent environment to differentiate between discretionary expenses and nondiscretionary expenses," said Steve Albanese, fire district treasurer.Expenditures 2011 Adopted Budget 2012 Proposed budget Increase (Decrease) Percent of Increase (Decrease) Total personnel services $1,576,955 $1,648,869 $71,194 4.6 percent Equipment $292,650 $380,373 $87,723 30 percent Contractual expenditures $1,762,518 $1,566,377 ($196,141) (11.1 percent) State retirement system $207,000 $278,000 $71,000 34.3 percent Service awards $238,874 $400,000 $161,126 67.5 percent Social Security $126,837 $132,338 $5,501 4.3 percent Workers' compensation $177,459 $192,500 $15,041 8.5 percent Life insurance $43,320 $45,500 $2,180 5 percent Hospital, medical & accident insurance $310,689 $357,500 $46,811 15.1 percent Total expenditures $4,736,302 $5,001,457 $265,155 5.6 percent Total revenue $420,582 $362,650 ($57,932) (13.8 percent) Property tax levy $4,315,720 $4,638,807 323,087 7.49 percent Assessed valuation $41,996,787 $41,114,963 ($881,824) (2.10 percent) Tax rate 10.2763 11.2825 1.006 9.79 percent
Data provided by the Setauket Fire District