On Thursday night, the East Hampton Town Board unanimously adopted a
$64 million budget for 2011, an 11-percent reduction in spending from
the current budget of $71.7 million.
“Rarely does a budget fulfill the mandate of the electorate,” said
East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, praising the full town
board for showing “fiscal responsibility that transcends party
“It does not stop here,” he added. “Tough decisions will be ongoing
The town is currently saddled with a $27 million deficit created under
former Supervisor Bill McGintee’s administration, leading to a call
for reductions in spending while the town finances its deficit through
the State of New York.
Over half of the decreases in spending in the budget come from the
elimination of 34 full-time positions in the town through the state’s
early retirement incentive program, which according to Wilkinson’s
budget has saved $2.7 million in annual salary and benefit costs. An
additional 18 positions vacated within the town have been kept vacant,
resulting in a savings of $1.53 million, for an overall savings of
$4.23 million as a result of staff reductions within the town.
The adopted budget will give residents of the town in the villages of
East Hampton and Sag Harbor a 20-percent reduction in town taxes, with
residents outside the incorporated villages set to receive a 17-
percent reduction in taxes.
The tax levy — the actual amount of money raised by property taxes to
fund town services — has been reduced by $10.4 million, a 18.5 percent
decrease from the 2010 budget.
The budget was adopted with a few amendments including an increase of
$135,000 to cover increases in health insurance costs within the town.
While town board members Dominick Stanzione and Julia Prince initially
requested $60,000 be put back into the budget to provide additional
aid to several social service organizations within the town, that
number was pared down to $20,000 by the time the budget was adopted.
The board agreed to increase monies for a human services subcontractor
from $5,000 to $8,500, increase funding to the East Hampton Day Care
and Learning Center by $5,000 and add a new budget line for the East
Hampton Food Pantry for $5,000.
The budget also included an amendment to increase proposed spending
for a fisheries consultant from $5,000 to $15,000.
That position, which has been held by Arnold Leo, was originally cut
from $35,000 to $5,000, drawing the ire of some members of the
commercial and recreational fishing community, who said they needed
representation in front of regulatory boards that create standards for
the fisheries to follow.
In other town board news, Carol Miller, president of the League of
Women Voters of the Hamptons, presented a study funded by that
organization that suggests the town change its form of government and
create a position of town manager, similar to the administrator
position held by Larry Cantwell in the Village of East Hampton.
According to Miller, the town manager would oversee the day-to-day
administrative duties, leaving the town board and supervisor greater
ability to focus their time on setting policy and a strategic
direction for the Town of East Hampton.
“The League study concluded that given the increased complexity of the
town government, the town would be better served by having a town
manager functioning as chief administrative officer separate from the
supervisor and town board,” said Miller, adding town managers are
professionals that are educated and trained in how to perform the
duties of municipal management.
She added that town managers also give the community continuity as
Wilkinson wondered how many municipalities out of the 932 in New York
State operated with this kind of government. Miller said currently
there are seven that use this system.
“Do you know what the average cost for a town manager department would
be,” wondered Prince.
Miller said it was difficult to decipher, as the cost for funding the
position is often offset by the savings a municipality sees under a
town manager. She agreed to provide the board with more information on
the cost and savings, and at the request of board member Theresa
Quigley, also said she would look into the average salaries paid to
town board members who have the benefit of a town manager to handle