Levy proposes property tax freeze

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy proposed a 2010 Operating Budget that cuts overall spending by $47 million, freezes property taxes in the General Fund (actually -4%) and in the Police Fund (actually -.2%), according to a release from his office.

Mr. Levy presented the budget to the legislature in Hauppauge last Thursday, stating, “Make no mistake, 2009 was a difficult financial year.” He referred to a projected $100 million revenue loss from declining sales tax collections and increased property tax delinquencies.

“But over the past five budgets, we have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in real, recurring savings and it is because of those efficiencies and tough decisions that we are able to continue to reduce general fund property taxes in the county,” Mr. Levy said. 

The 2010 proposed budget includes:

• General Fund property tax levy frozen (decrease of approximately 4%).

• Overall spending decreased by $47 million in 2010, with a two-year total of $142 million.

• No use of Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund; in fact it is at the same level as 2004.

• No speculative revenues from New York State or elsewhere.

• No layoffs or concessions sought from bargaining units that provided concessions in 2009.

• Payment of a new, state-imposed MTA payroll tax, expected to cost Suffolk nearly $4 million — to be paid without increasing taxes.

Mr. Levy said he will deliver on an additional $500,000 in police revenue sharing to town and village departments, which he promised in 2005 under a five-year plan to double revenue sharing. In 2010, the revenue share to towns and villages will total more than $6.5 million, compared to $3 million in 2005.

Mr. Levy described proposed tax cuts and freezes as “unprecedented” but also proposed increasing funding for some services, such as the H1N1 vaccine program, emergency meal delivery to seniors and food pantry support. Budget savings are anticipated by eliminating some county services, such as a plan to privatize county marinas.