Brookhaven approves $317 million budget to raise taxes and restore pandemic job cuts

Brookhaven officials have approved a $316.8 million budget for next year that raises taxes by 1.89% and restores thirty jobs that have been slashed to cut costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Township officials said the budget will help reopen or reopen seniors’ programs and recreation centers that closed last year amid a flurry of precautions taken in the early months of the pandemic.

The city council voted 7-0 Thursday to approve an operating budget and a $43.7 million capital improvement plan that includes $6.4 million to improve parks and recreational facilities and $14.4 million to upgrade landfill infrastructure.

Officials said annual taxes on $2,750 of non-village homes will rise by $10.93. The average annual city tax increase for villagers would be $3.88. Officials said the increases did not exceed the state’s tax ceiling.

Last year, Brookhaven left more than 50 job openings vacant amid a projected $13.9 million revenue loss due to the pandemic. Budget restores 36 virus-related jobs. It will also lead to the resumption and reopening of seniors programs and recreational facilities, officials said, possibly as soon as January.

The number of employees is expected to grow from 815 this year to 851 next year as the city reinstates employees for seniors’ programs and at the six recreation centers.

Councilman Jonathan Kornreich, the only Democrat on the city council, said the budget also includes money for a variety of projects to improve parks and restore historic buildings. He cited several in the North Shore neighborhood, including the Preservation of Historic Homes in Situcket and Port Jefferson Station.

There is also nearly $200,000 to upgrade a town park on the southeast corner of Routes 347 and 112 at Port Jefferson Station, a site occupied by a vintage train that serves as a community landmark, Kornreich said.

“This park is really important to the identity of the Port Jefferson Station community,” Kornreich said. “Now we are getting ready to set up some beautiful duel, [and] There will be a stage. … It would really be a great park for the people there.”

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