The New Hyde Park Board of Trustees unanimously voted Thursday night to approve a $7.5 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year with a tax levy increase of 0.65%.
Mayor Christopher Devane apologized to residents and took full responsibility for the village being unable to return half of the $200.88 increase in village taxes that were raised last year, dedicated to the construction of a new community center to replace Marcus Christ Hall, which was demolished last winter.
“As much as I want to be telling you I am giving you back the $100 from last year, I am not and that’s on me,” Devane said during his report. “We have had many discussions on this board on what to do with those monies and I am well aware I wanted to get that $100 back.”
Devane said at the time of last year’s increase that it was a “one-shot deal” but added last week that unforeseen circumstances in the costs of capital projects in the village have delayed returning the $100.
Specifically, Devane pointed to the increased cost of installing a new playground at Memorial Park, which the village DPW excavated in October.
“The number to install over the past year has ballooned from approximately $120,000 to $130,000 for the turf and playground equipment itself to approximately $340,000,” Devane said.
The mayor added the village set aside approximately $350,000 for the playground, including approximately $215,000 for equipment.
“I take full responsibility for that and I am not happy about it,” Devane said. “We want to give you a class park that you’re proud of, we want to give you facilities you are proud of and as far as Memorial Park is concerned we are well on our way to that.”
The new budget includes a tax rate of $27.50 per $100 of assessed valuation, which represents no change from the tax rate last year. Average assessed households with an assessed valuation of $5,400 would be required to pay $1,485 in village taxes, the same as last year, according to officials.
The $7,508,092.25 general fund, which includes maintenance and operation of the village, marks a 1.84% increase from the current budget.
Improving infrastructure in the village has long been a focus of the village administration since Devane was elected in 2021.
Additional improvements at Memorial Park include installing new bathrooms, a perimeter fence, a second bocce ball court and resurfacing the basketball courts, among other things. Devane said that based on conversations he’s had with developers and department heads, an ideal timetable for the playground to open would be by Memorial Day.
Last June, the village unveiled three new “labors of love,” as Devane put it, at the park, including the Donald Barbieri Dog Park, a new bocce court and restructured memorial.
Village hall has also undergone a complete interior renovation, including the new Assembly Hall in July where board meetings take place.
Assembly Hall now features its original tin ceilings after the previous drop ceiling panels were removed and the wooden chairs were unbolted from the floor. The current wood floor was filled in where the chairs previously stood and had its varnished removed, revealing its original colors.
Devane said the village is working diligently to provide residents with a product they are going to love for decades to come.
“We’re investing in us, we’re investing in our parks and we’re investing in our future,” Devane said.