Featured Story

Dering Harbor Village Board adopts 2015-16 budget

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Dering Harbor Village Hall.

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Dering Harbor Village Hall.

The Dering Harbor Village Board has approved an increase in its 2015-16 budget of 1.9 percent – from $318,680 budgeted in 2014-15 to $324,800 — or a difference of $6,120.

The vote followed a public hearing on Saturday morning, April 21 in Village Hall at which Mayor Tim Hogue reviewed the proposed budget, line by line, for the six residents who attended. He said the budget remained relatively flat for the coming year with some exceptions.

While there will be no increases in employee salaries for the second year in a row, health insurance costs have increased by more than $8,000. This will be offset somewhat by the elimination of state retirement benefits for one village employee.

The freeze on staff salaries was not as punitive as it might seem, given the fact that 100 percent of the health benefit is paid for, unlike the practice in most other businesses, the mayor said.

Another major expense is village debt on two bonds – one to cover repairs to Village Hall and the other for the village’s second well. Paying off the principal on both in 2015-16 will cost approximately $20,000 or about 6 percent of the total budget, below the standard set by the state as good fiscal practice and low compared to other municipalities, Mr. Hogue said.

Other contractual expenses are up by about $2,000.

Earlier in the morning, the board approved a local law that would permit it to exceed the state’s mandated tax cap if that proved necessary. Although the budget is within the 2 percent ceiling, village attorney Joe Prokop pointed out that the percentage can vary from year to year; the mayor also noted that there could be unanticipated expenses incurred in the weeks remaining in this fiscal year.

The mayor explained again this year that the allocation for the Shelter Island Fire Department is a contractual agreement by which village residents are billed the same as town residents, based on the assessed value of their properties. The only negative, the mayor said, is that villagers can’t vote in Fire District elections.

Town taxes paid by the village exempt the fire department, as well as road maintenance, Mr. Hogue said, in response to a question from the audience.

In conclusion, the mayor said the assessed value of taxable property in the village is estimated at $122,865,918, compared to $119,159,436 in the previous year. This will bring the estimated tax rate to .0026435, reduced from .026744 —  or $2.64 per $1,000 of assessed property value compared to $2.67.

Dering Woods building application

Lawyers representing the Dering Woods Lane LLC — Brian Feinstein and Joel Sunshine — attended the meeting to discuss the board’s February rejection of a building application and plans submitted for a property on Dering Woods Lane, previously owned by Adam Dunhill.

Immediately after the board’s decision, the mayor had told the Reporter that the plans, submitted by the contractor Ted Foscolo, “did not accurately represent what the applicant intended to build.”

In response to questions from Mr. Hogue, Mr. Sunshine clarified that there were only two managers of the LLC, himself and Mr. Feinstein. Mr. Foscolo is their building consultant and “does not speak for us,” he said, and would not be involved in future discussions with the village.

The mayor reiterated what he had said at previous board meetings where problems with the application were discussed, among them the confusion regarding the multiple parties involved. The board had no reluctance about building a spec house on the property, he said, but “we want to be sure the quality is comparable with other properties in the village.”

He added that following the building inspector’s approval of a resubmitted application, the plans would be reviewed by the Architectural Review Board, which had up to a maximum of 60 days to respond.

The lawyers emphasized that they would like to expedite the process that had been ongoing since October. Misinformation and miscommunications contributed to the delay, the mayor said. “We’ll do what we can now to get this going quickly … As long as we can feel comfortable, we can move forward.”

Last words on the subject: From the lawyers, “We hear you, loud and clear”; from the mayor, This discussion has helped to clear the air.”

Other business

The replacement of well # 2 is in its final stages, only waiting on Suffolk County Department  of Health approval. The problem, now, Mr. Hogue said, is the water tank, which recently had several minor leaks on the upper portion of the tank. The cost of building a new tank could be as high as $200,000.

The board will be looking this summer at some funding sources for the project and considering installing a smaller tank, Mr. Hogue said.

Due to bad weather, there have been delays in installing dry wells on Dering Woods and Yoco roads. Some of Cablevision’s cables needed to be relocated on Dering Woods Road, contributing to the delay.

10 K: The board approved the 10K Race Committee’s request to route part of the June 20 race on village roadways, subject to insurance being in place.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held on Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m.