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Disagreement Over Southampton Town Budget Process

Posted on 15 October 2009

The process of adopting the 2010 Southampton Town budget is already off to a rocky start for the town board. At a work session on Friday, October 9, supervisor Linda Kabot and councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst differed over the process by which the budget was formulated. The board was set to vote on a resolution to turn the tentative budget into the preliminary budget, which would allow the town board to schedule public hearings. Citing her support of department heads, Throne-Holst declined to approve the resolution, saying she had wished there had been a more inclusive discussion in the creation of the budget.

“The department heads felt they hadn’t had any substantive input [in the budget],” said Throne-Holst during a later interview. She added that she first saw the full budget Thursday, the day before the work session. Although each department head had a meeting with Kabot as well as with comptroller Tamara Wright and their respective board liaison, Throne-Holst contended many department heads were still surprised by the proposals in the tentative budget.

“We spent lots of time with each and every department head and we asked each department head to make cuts,” argued Kabot. In a later interview, Kabot added, “Ultimately difficult decisions had to be made.”

The board was on a bit of a time crunch because the notice of the public hearing has to be set and publicly noticed five days before the general election, which gave the board until Tuesday, October 13, to convert the budget.

“There isn’t much we can do between now and Tuesday,” noted councilwoman Sally Pope on Friday. “I don’t support the budget process we have been through … We asked for zero based budgeting and we never did that.”

By the end of the meeting, four council members voted in favor of converting to a preliminary 2010 budget and the first in a series of public hearings is slated for Tuesday, October 27, at 6 p.m. The following hearing is set at Friday, October 30, at 1 p.m. And the final public hearing will be held on November 10 at 1 p.m. The board has until November 20 to adopt the final 2010 budget.

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