By Kathryn G. Menu
New York State has awarded the Town of East Hampton over half a million dollars in recognition of the reduction of the town’s $27 million deficit and its ability to lower taxes during 2010 through 2012.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson made the announcement last Wednesday, June 19. According to Supervisor Wilkinson, the town received the $536,425 award based on the municipal restructuring plan his administration implemented in an effort to restructure town finances in the wake of a $27 million deficit left by the former administration of William McGintee.
“This award objectively evaluated our recovery plan that included implementing zero based budgeting, prudent deficit financing, reduction in staff through attrition and incentive retirements, consolidating operations and streamlining functions, improving operational efficiencies, eliminating and/or reducing select municipal programs, introducing personal accountability and sale of surplus assets,” said Wilkinson.
The state’s Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program award merit based grants to government entities who can apply for that recognition. This year, the state has awarded over $12 million to 13 municipalities, although East Hampton Town is the only government body in Suffolk County to receive an award and one of only two on Long Island.
The award will be distributed to the town over a three-year period.
“These projects are producing annual savings to taxpayers…The work being done by our local government partners shows the level of commitment these local leaders have to reducing expenses while maintaining the quality of services they provide,” New York State Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dierdre Scozzafava said. “We anticipate other local governments will view these projects as examples of some of the options available to reduce their expenses.”
“It is especially gratifying to get such recognition from the Bureau of Fiscal Management, Department of State,” said Wilkinson. “Although some thought our actions were worthy of criticism, those financial strategies and tactics righted a sinking ship and looked to rebuilding the financial credibility of the Town of East Hampton. It was a team effort and it demonstrated the possibilities of a competent and focused approach.”
According to Wilkinson, the award proceeds will be used to introduce “state of the art” concepts in the floor plan and work space design in the renovation of town hall.
“Our workforce is mobile and oftentimes, share responsibilities,” he said. “The new work environment should recognize these collaborations. Shared space, open flooring and technology advanced work atmospheres should be pursued. This award goes a long way toward the design of such an environment.”