Flower Hill to raise taxes by 14% in 2024-2025 fiscal year

Flower Hill to raise taxes by 14% in 2024-2025 fiscal year
Flower Hill Village Hall in the Village of Flower Hill on May 26. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

The Village of Flower Hill is increasing its taxes by 14.1% in the next fiscal year, which the village attributed in part to the new cost of its private security patrol.

“We want to have a certain level of service we provide to our residents,” Mayor Randall Rosenbaum said. “There’s nothing really else to cut in our budget. It’s a tough one.”

The village’s Board of Trustees voted to approve its $4,098,437 budget for 2024-2025 Monday night, which is a 2% increase from the current budget.

The 14.1% village tax increase amounts to a $197,560 increase in taxes needed to be raised.

But while village taxes will be rising by about 14%, the total taxes including those for fire service will amount to about a 9% increase.

The board voted to pierce the 2% tax cap, which Rosenbaum said was necessary but an action he took with reluctance. Mary Jo Collins, who also serves as the Town of North Hempstead’s receiver of taxes, abstained from the vote.

Driving the budget are added costs for a private security patrol, which is increasing the village’s code enforcement expense by 62%.

“I would prefer not to spend this money but I’ve heard from enough people who want us to spend on some sort of security patrol,” Rosenbaum said.

The security patrol was implemented earlier this year after a wave of crime occurred in the village in early December.

Rosenbaum said resident feedback about the security patrol has been mixed.

The village will be expending $208,550 for code enforcement next fiscal year, including the security patrol, which constitutes 5.1% of the total budget. The current budget allots $130,050 for code enforcement.

But with crime falling and car thefts decreasing, Rosenbaum said he has had conversations with Ryder about other methods to deter crime like license plate readers.

The mayor added that it is budgeted for the full year, but the village can always opt out of the expense at any time.

Also contributing to the budget increase are high insurance costs, which are rising by 10%.

“Those are costs we really cannot afford,” Rosenbaum said. “It’s necessary.”

Special items, or insurances, are budgeted to cost $132,000.

Employee benefits are budgeted to cost $534,550, increasing by 14%.

The largest expense for the village is sanitation, which amounts to $902,000. This expense is not increasing and will be 22% of the total budget.

The second highest expense is fire protection at $730,500, which fell by 11% from the current budget. Flower Hill contracts with both the Port Washington Fire Department and the Roslyn Fire Department.

Additional expenses for the village are equipment replacements, which Rosenbaum said is necessary. These will be paid for through $15,000 of the village’s capital funds and $186,000 of federal COVID-19 relief money.

Equipment to be purchased includes a plow and salt spreader, pickup truck, payloader with a backhoe, ride-on mower and ride-on blower.

After the capital expenditures on equipment, the village will not have any more COVID-19 relief funds and $85,000 will remain in the capital reserve fund balance.

In tandem with approving the budget, the board also approved three local laws Monday night.

The three law changes included amending its fee schedule, amending the village’s chapter on fences and replacing a tree chapter.

Rosenbaum said Flower Hill has one of the lowest fee rates compared to other villages, and that its fee schedule is “way behind” in terms of being updated.

The change to the fee schedule would update all the village’s fees, including building permit fees.

The Building Department’s permit fees would instead be based on the square footage of the project, which Rosenbaum said is comparable to other villages, instead of an additional 1% of the project’s expected cost.

Rosenbaum said at the March meeting that the increase in fees will also aid the village in combatting rising costs and preventing even greater increases in taxes.

The board adopted the fence chapter amendment, which added verbiage to the law only permitting a maximum fence height of six feet for properties along Port Washington Boulevard, Middle Neck Road and Northern Boulevard.

The tree code change was to enhance tree protections, Rosenbaum said.

The board also approved a residential lot line adjustment for a Birch Lane homeowner to install a sport court. Provisions were added to the approval in the instance the home is sold, requiring the original homeowner to remove it or the new homeowner to file a building permit to legalize the structure within 120 days after the sale.

After last month’s election, without any opposition, all the incumbents who ran for re-election were sworn in before the meeting to begin their next two-year term Monday night. This included Mayor Randall Rosenbaum, Trustee AJ Smith, Trustee Gary Lewandowski, Trustee Claire Dorfman and Justice Dennis Reisman.

The Village of Flower Hill Board of Trustees will convene again on May 6.

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