Categorized | Government, Page 1

East Hampton Town Adopts Budget with Little Surprises

Posted on 24 November 2010

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 
affiliation.” 

“It does not stop here,” he added. “Tough decisions will be ongoing 
and required.” 

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 
administrations change. 

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 
administrative duties.

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