A preliminary $205.7 million budget for the Town of Huntington will go into effect in January after it failed to pass on Tuesday.
The preliminary budget, proposed by Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, failed to win the support of any Town Board members. But it wasn’t voted down either, so by state law, the 2020 operating budget passed by default.
Lupinacci proposed the budget Tuesday, and was originally seconded by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson. But after a back-and-forth discussion of procedure involving amendments, Cuthbertson withdrew his support and Lupinacci was unable to win another supporter.
Since, by state law, the budget had to pass by Wednesday, the preliminary budget will automatically go into effect. It cannot be amended until January.
Lupinacci said, “It’s an excellent budget, it falls within the tax cap and it finds savings while reaffirming a Triple A credit rating.”
He added, “Particular focus was given to employee salaries, overtime and benefits. In addition, fuel, energy and other utility costs, contractual expenses and debt service payments were analyzed. We continue to provide current levels of service, despite a contractual collective bargaining salary increase for all union employees.”
Cuthbertson disagreed, saying, ““Since taking office almost two years ago, the Lupinacci administration has padded the payroll with patronage hires, adding unnecessary jobs that swell the town budget by almost $1 million. Eliminating the funding for those jobs, as my amendment proposed, would reduce by one-third the tax-cap-straining property tax increase for 2020. I am disappointed that the Town Board Republicans once again have placed political cronies ahead of taxpayers.”
Councilwoman Joan Cergol said, “I voted against the budget because it does not address critical staffing deficiencies in some departments as well as pay inequity among exempt personnel. My modest amendment, which the board majority did not consider, would have been a start toward a necessary in-depth assessment of how we can best serve our residents.”