Proposed Oyster Bay, N.Y., budget tackles debt burden

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Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino proposes slashing outstanding debt by $50 million in his first budget proposal since taking over the junk-rated Long Island municipality eight months ago.

Saladino, who was appointed to the town supervisor post in February, released a $298.9 million 2018 budget plan Tuesday that he said would drop total outstanding debt for New York State’s fourth-largest township from $763 million to $628 million. The Republican supervisor, who previously was a longtime state Assemblyman, said in a statement that he has accelerated debt service payments this year by $85 million, or 11%. Dedicating $98.3 million toward debt service in the 2018 spending plan he says would cut the town’s total debt by 21.5% over a two-year period.

The 2018 fiscal proposal, which is a slight increase from the town’s current $289.5 million budget, would save $3 million in full-time salaries from cutting 24 positions. Saladino said an additional $1.79 million was achieved from the state's new Shared Services initiative mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will transfer nearly two-dozen public safety officers to Nassau County.

“Our finances are now headed in the right direction,” said Saladino, who is running for a full four-year term as supervisor on Nov. 7 against Democrat Marc Hermann and three other candidates. “The 2018 proposed budget holds each and every department accountable for their budget and cuts property taxes by participating in Governor Cuomo’s shared services initiative.”

Saladino arrived in Oyster Bay Town Hall from Albany following the resignation of longtime supervisor John Venditto in January after he was indicted on federal corruption charges. The town saw its previous triple-A credit rating slashed seven notches from 2011 to 2016, which Venditto attributed in July 2016 to miscalculated revenues and a steep decline in annual mortgage taxes following the 2008 recession. Oyster Bay general obligation bonds now have a BB-plus junk-level rating from S&P Global Ratings and are rated Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service, the lowest in the investment grade category.

The Herman campaign did not immediately respond for a call seeking comment on Saladino’s budget plan. Herman is former president of the Syosset Central School District board of education.

In addition to boosting debt service payments, Saladino said he has also tried to bring Oyster Bay back to fiscal health through decreased reliance on borrowing with no bonds issued for capital projects in 2017. He said the town had previously borrowed up to $100 million a year for infrastructure purposes.

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Budgets Town of Oyster Bay, NY New York