Tag Archive | "Bill jones"

Honor Flight on Veterans Day

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By Claire Walla

Occurring on 11.11.11, this year Veteran’s Day already seems more epic than most.

But for four Sag Harbor residents, its significance doesn’t stop there.  The holiday will also be marked by an Odyssey nearly 40 years in the making, during which the four Vietnam veterans will journey to Washington D.C. and visit the Vietnam Memorial for the very first time.

“On behalf of everyone, we really appreciate the opportunity to go down there,” said Daniel Sabloski, an Honor Flight participant who grew up in Sag Harbor and served as a combat soldier in Vietnam for 11 months.  “I look forward to going,” he continued.  “This is something I feel I need to do.”

He will be joined by Sag Harbor residents Jay Babcock, Richard Henn and Steve Peters, as well as nearly 40 other veterans from Long Island.  The entire event will also include veterans from Philadelphia and Atlanta, bringing the total number of participants to over 120.

The event was organized by Honor Flight Long Island, which operates out of the Department of Human Services at Southampton Town.  Bill Jones, the director of human services who graduated from West Point and served in Vietnam shortly after the end of the war, will also accompany the veterans.

As someone who’s been to the Vietnam Memorial—and someone who’s attended many Honor Flight trips in the past—Jones said he expects the journey to be a powerful, emotional experience for all those involved.

“I was really moved by it,” Jones said of his visit to the memorial back in the ‘80s.  The stone wall is a zig-zagging surface that holds more than 57,000 names.  “It’s not a minute’s walk,” he continued.  “It takes you a long time to see it all.”

“I know that what the guys talk about more than anything is the fact that every single name is up on that wall,” Jones continued.  “It’s not just a general memorial for those who fought, but it’s for those who died, too.  That’s extremely personal.”

The Honor Flight crew is taking a handful of “guardians” with them, one of whom is Richard Henn from Sag Harbor, so that veterans will be able to experience the memorial with somewhat of a support network.

“I know it’s going to be difficult for a lot of the guys going down, they’ve already expressed that to me,” Jones added.  “Although I didn’t experience it myself, the loss of life right next to you is hard to talk about,” Jones said.  “But Honor Flight has allowed that to happen.”

Jones said one of the most important things Honor Flight does is it gives veterans the chance to talk to one another about experiences that they’ve all shared; experiences they are not necessarily able to talk about with those who haven’t experienced war.

“They think a lot about it,” he continued.  “[War] leaves such an indelible mark, if you’ve served for one year in Vietnam or three or four years in World War II.”

Over the past four years, Honor Flight has worked to bring nearly 750 veterans of World War II down to D.C. to visit the World War II memorial.  And while Honor Flight’s mission remains dedicated to veterans of WWII—whom they hope to accommodate first, as that population continues to age—the trip to the Vietnam Memorial came to fruition because of a special project funded entirely by the History Channel.

According to Virginia Bennet, deputy director of the Southampton Town Human Services Department, the grant from the History Channel “paid for everything.”

She explained that the History Channel—which aired its three-part series on the Vietnam War earlier this week—is working in conjunction with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) to collect photographs of every single person whose name appears on the Vietnam memorial wall in D.C.  The photographs will be part of an interactive exhibit at the VVMF Education Center that’s expected to open in 2014.



Budget Talks Incite Altercation Between Deputy Supervisor and PBA Head

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Talks of possible layoffs in Southampton Town Hall led to a heated argument between Deputy Supervisor Bill Jones and PBA President Patrick Aubé. After supervisor Linda Kabot revealed a sobering 2010 budget plan on Friday, October 2, Jones confronted Aubé in the hallway as reporters, council members and the public looked on. Bringing his finger inches from Aubé’s face, Jones railed against comments Aubé had made during the budget meeting.

Above: Jones with Kabot earlier in the year.

Aubé alleged the board hadn’t done due diligence in finding cost-cutting measures besides laying off nearly 50 employees. He claimed the PBA proposed $1.5 million in savings in 2008 and said the town had dismissed the PBA’s recommendations. Aubé implored the board to reject the preliminary 2010 budget, saying, “It is time that this town board shows its workforce that layoffs and destruction of their families is not the answer.”

PBA Vice President Kevin Gwinn chimed in and remarked that the tentative budget is founded on “smoke and mirrors.”

As tempers flared in the hallway, Jones defended the work of his colleagues and painted a different portrait of the PBA and their efforts.

“I am infuriated by this nonsense . . . You [the PBA] haven’t been cooperative . . . every taxpayer suffers the bills they have to pay [for the Police Fund],” yelled Jones, who later allegedly shoved Aubé.

Hearing the fracas in the hallway, Kabot exited the conference room and attempted to separate the two men.

“You have to calm down,” she said to Jones.

“He had to tell four employees [they might be let go],” explained Kabot to Aubé, clarifying the possible reason behind Jones’ angry outburst.

After Jones was sequestered to another room and Aubé and Gwinn left the building, Kabot was asked if Jones would receive a formal reprimand.

“The reality is I have to get more facts about what happened. The issue is that he is upset about the commentary made . . . I apologize . . . This isn’t a good representation of me or my office,” noted Kabot.

She later pointed out that town police employee costs accounted for almost $22 million last year, while the overall 2009 adopted budget was $82.5 million. She added that a high percentage of the police force are paid well over $100,000 a year and noted that almost a quarter are eligible for retirement.

Aubé doesn’t plan to press charges against Jones, but did file an incident report with Southampton Village police.

Jones issued a statement via email on Sunday afternoon saying: “Citizens are demanding fundamental change at every level of government and, in particular, they want government to spend less so that it will tax less. What the people need to recognize and understand is that the fundamental change they seek is impossible without a monumental reduction in police costs. Village cops, town cops, and county cops are too highly compensated and their labor victories of the past have made them arrogant and uncompromising. Good for the cops, bad for the taxpayers. Many know this to be true, but few are willing to say it publicly. I just did.”

Of the atmosphere in town hall, Kabot said, “Tempers are running high. There are a lot of emotions.”

Noyac Center Off the Table As Town Faces Finances

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For nearly five years, Noyac community members had been petitioning Southampton Town for a community center, and in November 2008, it looked like the hamlet was one step closer to getting their wish. Town supervisor Linda Kabot visited the Noyac Civic Council in late November and told the group the town was receptive to the idea of erecting a new center on a parcel of land adjacent to Trout Pond. The town had even scheduled funding for the project as part of the 2011 budget.

  Only five months have passed since the meeting, but in that time, a host of fiscal blunders in Southampton Town have come to light — leaving the town strapped for cash and unable to complete many of the projects it had hoped to accomplish, including a new Noyac Community Center.

  “There was great discussion on the board about the Noyac Center, about creating a brand new facility, but in these times it certainly doesn’t seem prudent,” deputy supervisor Bill Jones reported during an interview last week. “There is basically no surplus. The plan for capital projects for 2009 has slowed to a trickle unless there is a great need or if there is an issue of public safety.”

  Jones added that this bare bones approach to funding capital projects would likely continue through the next couple of years. Supervisor Kabot said the projects which will take precedence now include roadwork, necessary building improvements and drainage, while other projects like playground and community centers will be put on the back burner until the town’s coffers are healthy and plump once again.

  As 2009 approaches the mid-year mark, it seems the Town of Southampton is experiencing a perfect storm of financial troubles. The town continues to reconcile the hidden I.O.U.s from the capital fund to the general fund from 2004 through 2006, but is also burdened by $19 million in authorized — but unissued — bonds, which must be issued at some point. In order for Southampton to go out to bond, the financial statements of the town must be completely accurate, which is only possible after the town’s financial records are fully reconciled. In addition to these worries, the town is also facing a $2 million revenue shortfall from mortgage taxes and the possibility of decreased property assessments for the next tax year, both of which are due to the ailing economy.

  In town hall, expense cuts have already been implemented across the board. The town has enacted a hiring freeze and is looking closely at part-time positions, said Jones. He added that the town hasn’t ruled out a lag payroll, in which employee wages for certain days work are deferred until employment is terminated. The supervisor has also frozen each department’s contingency fund.

  “Her [Kabot’s] message there is don’t overspend,” explained Jones. “There is no safety net.”

  Of the loss in mortgage tax revenue, Kabot said, “The taxpayer cannot absorb the difference. We must cut the expense side of the balance sheet.”

  In these situations, Kabot added that trimming spending could possibly translate to personnel cuts.

  Financial consultant Tamara Wright, who was recently appointed to the position of town comptroller, noted that decreases in revenue streams is a problem municipalities across the nation are grappling with, but unlike other municipalities Southampton Town must issue $19 million worth of authorized but unissued bonds. Both Kabot and Jones, however, noted that the town can ill afford to issue these bonds all at once. Jones said if the town issued all of the bonds and increased the tax rate up to the 5 percent tax rate cap, almost 4.4 percent of the tax increase would be set aside to pay off these bonds. Furthermore, the remaining .6 percent wouldn’t cover the expenses associated with running town hall or the town.

  “If we were to borrow all of that money in September 2009, it is like a mortgage. At some point in 2010 we would have to pay the principal on it,” explained Jones. “No way and no how would that 4.4 percent solve the problem because the town still has to continue operating into the next year.”

  Kabot remarked that it was the town’s duty to issue these bonds, which had been signed off on by previous town board administrations, and said the taxpayers will most likely have to pay back this debt over the next 30 years.

  For now, the town is focusing its efforts on reconciling the I.O.U.s from the capital fund to the tune of $10 million, of which $8.7 million is owed to the general fund.

  “We are looking at the transactions to see what was spent and then we have to analyze what was supposed to be spent in terms of budgets and authorized spending,” said Wright, who added that she has poured over thousands of resolutions for the 175 accounts, dating back to 2002, which need to be reconciled down to every penny spent. Kabot predicts the town will have a full analysis of the actual spending by Monday, June 1.

  According to Jones, the town will have certified financial reports for the audit of the 2008 budget by August. Jones expects the New York State Comptroller to come in at the end of the summer, or early fall, to conduct a risk analysis, which he predicts will prompt a full blown state audit of the town.

  In terms of the capital fund debacle, it is still unclear exactly where the fault lies, though former comptroller Charlene Kagel admitted she knew of the problem in 2007.

  Of any future legal actions, Kabot said, “It would be premature to assign culpability [right now.]”

Southampton Town Faces Four Main Financial Hurdles

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As Southampton Town officials continue to wade through hidden I.O.U.s from the general fund to the capitol fund in the years 2004 through 2006, last week Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot announced that the town would hold off on filing an annual update document with the State Comptroller, as recommended by the town comptroller Steve Brautigam. In a press informational session held by Kabot on Monday, May 18, she said the total authorized unissued debt for the town was around $19 million and added that the town faces four major hurdles in terms of correcting its finances.

Firstly, reported Kabot, since 2003 the town used interfund loans from the general fund to cover other town costs, such as police fund expenses, waste management expenses and highway fund expenses. These loans, she added, kept property tax increases at bay for these town expenses.

According to documentation provided by Kabot, “As of December 31, 2007, approximately $7.5 million in operating deficits were reported by the external auditors for the Police, Highway, and Waste Management Enterprise Funds, as well as various special assessment districts.” Kabot reported the “co-mingling” of funds was the crux of the problem. She added the town plans to enact a five-year deficit reduction plan, which was part of the 2009 adopted budget. The plan will steadily increase property taxes to cover these interfund transfers.

The second dilemma the town must reconcile is the often reported upon “errors, omissions and hidden I.O.U.s in the capital fund,” said Kabot.

“An unreported liability totaling over $8.5 million due from the General Fund to the Capitol Fund was confirmed March 19, 2009, for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 … this administrative oversight for the years 2004 through 2006 was not conveyed to the town board during 2007 or 2008,” stated Kabot.

She added that it has been reported that the former comptroller Charlene Kagel admitted to knowing of the problem in July 2007.

“Since about six weeks ago, we have had no discussion with Charlene,” said deputy supervisor Bill Jones.

“It appears everyone is lawyering up,” Kabot stated, who added earlier that “the town is looking at all legal options.” Though, it remains unclear if the former comptroller will be subject to any repercussions.

Kabot added that the town “is still digging to get to every penny” of money that was approved to be transferred from the general fund to the capital fund but was never moved.

Town management services administrator Richard Blowes said the town should have certified financial reports by August, which will help ameliorate the third problem facing the town. The town needs to have accurate financial reports in order to authorize unissued bonds to begin paying off the town’s debts. Kabot added that she is insisting upon an external audit to “help review and restate fund balances.”

The town’s fiscal worries are further compounded by significant decreases in mortgage tax revenue. According to Kabot, the town is anticipating a $2 million shortfall for 2009. The town had originally budgeted for $7.5 million in mortgage tax revenue. This will lead to several cost cutting measures at town hall. Purchase orders at or above $1,000 will require Kabot’s signature and all equipment, vehicle and electronic gadget purchases will be suspended.

Office Space Quandary at Town Hall

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Most residents, or at least those who have been issued a parking or speeding ticket, know the Southampton Town Justice Court is located in the lower level of Town Hall, but in two weeks this department will relocate to a new space in Hampton Bays. As the justice court prepares for the move, the town renovations committee, in conjunction with the town board, is in the midst of deciding what to do with the vacant space.
Town board members floated ideas of housing the town’s army of auditors in the court’s former offices. However, deputy supervisor Bill Jones pointed out that moving a whole department isn’t as simple as packing up boxes.
“There are substantial costs involved to refit the justice court to fit the needs of any individual department,” said Jones.
Town supervisor Linda Kabot remarked that town hall is already “packed to the gills.”
“I believe we should hire an outside firm to do an assessment of our spatial needs,” Jones added, saying outside specialists will direct the town on the best use of the office space.
Last year the committee interviewed architecture firms who specialize in these kinds of assessments, but their services came with price tags ranging from $30,000 to $70,000 for a complete study of the town’s spatial needs. With limited funds available for an extensive renovation, some board members believe it’s an inopportune time to spend money on outside consultants.
“If the economy stays slow for a couple years, we can’t do a big renovation,” said councilwoman Sally Pope, who believes the preliminary assessment work could be done in-house through a questionnaire distributed to each department. Although divided on hiring an outside consultant, the board seemed to endorse Pope’s idea for now and said the town and the committee could start to create questions.
“I think we need a consultant, but at least we are starting the data gathering,” Kabot said.

Discover 3-Year-Old, $5 Million Error

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Blaming human error, a discovery of an unallocated $4.9 million from the 2005-2006 budget year has further muddied the financial waters at Southampton Town Hall. In addition, the issue has created a greater schism on the town board.

On Monday, Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and Deputy Supervisor Bill Jones held a press conference to give an update to the public on the so-called “missing funds” from the town’s capital program.

Indicating they were “significant findings,” Kabot elaborated on Monday saying an administrative error by the previous comptroller included some $4.9 million that was supposed to be allocated for use in capital projects. The money was entered into the town’s fund, but was never actually transferred to the projects for which it was earmarked.

In January, the town board discovered around $19 million was unaccounted for in the capital accounts. Since then, through reconciliations of the accounts, that number has been reduced to $250,000. Because of these investigations, interviews with the former comptroller revealed the unallocated $4.9 million.

The town board recently made changes to the internal organization designed to figure out the discrepancy in the accounts. The board is also holding weekly work sessions with department heads to determine their needs for capital projects.

Jones explained there are three ways a capital project can be funded: grant funds, direct appropriations, or bonds. Originally, the administration thought the problem was most likely from bonds that were authorized but never issued. Now, Jones explained, the previous comptroller and her office realized last Thursday that money from direct appropriations had never been moved.

“There are two bites to every apple. First, the direct appropriation was posted to the project’s budget,” said Jones explaining a memo he had sent to Kabot on Friday. “Once posted it would appear there was real money available to be spent as needed, but in fact a second step was necessary for this to be true.”

“I am advising you that we have been unable to identify that ‘cash’ or fund balance that was moved in 2005 and 2006,” Jones also said in the memo.

Further, he explained on Monday, the former comptroller’s administration had also incorrectly entered $2 million into their computer program.

“There was a data entry problem as well,” said Jones.

Kabot also announced on Monday, the “2008 capital budget is not at issue.” Though she added she is unsure if the matter will have a budgetary impact.

“It’s a bit premature… but clearly if we relied on fund balances in the year end…likely we need to revisit the 2009 adopted budget,” said Kabot who added “given the economic downturn,” some projects may be reviewed and deemed unnecessary at this time.”

“Yes it will have budgetary impact,” said the supervisor, “but we won’t know how much until we narrow down spending.”

Kabot is also suggesting the state comptroller review this and other significant findings.

“It is unsettling,” said Kabot. “It was a human error and the end result was an overstatement of the general fund balance.”

Now, Jones and Kabot explained, every direct appropriation will have a resolution attached to it so it can be easily traced.

“Direct appropriations were not traced as easily — now anything must have a resolution so it’s searchable,” said Jones.

“I am upset,” said Kabot. “I would’ve liked to know the full amount [unaccounted for] in 2008  … [the comptroller’s office] still needed to tell us, they have a duty to inform the town board… the audit committee had no knowledge and we did not know it would lead back to direct appropriations of this magnitude.”

Although the supervisor said, “several findings were made,” those won’t be discussed until Friday, April 1. She also said many of the “numbers are still under review,” but she held the conference to “keep everyone in the loop.”

Town Board Meeting on Tuesday

Kabot introduced a walk-on resolution related to the misplaced funds at Tuesday’s meeting calling for a corrective action plan, which was only supported by councilwoman Nancy Graboski. Councilman Chris Nuzzi, councilperson Anna Throne-Holst, and councilperson Sally Pope voted down the resolution.

The resolution stated the $4.9 million “represents nearly 20 percent of the entire capital fund” and asked for an official opinion from Albrecht, Viggiano, Zureck and Company (AVZ), an external auditor, and a second opinion from FTI consulting, forensic auditors.

The resolution also called for the supervisor and the comptroller to create and prepare a corrective action plan, and forward that plan to the New York State Comptroller for review.

“First of all, there was no basis for it, there was no legal basis, in our opinion it was a meaningless resolution,” said Throne-Holst, explaining her decision to not support Kabot’s resolution.

“It was talking about an ‘idea of an action plan’ and ‘an idea of misappropriation and wrong doing,’ and it had dollar figures which are unverified at this point,” added Throne-Holst. “We are going to have a work session on it and I certainly didn’t want my name on it before I know the facts, nor do I see the point in putting that into a resolution.”

“A walk-on resolution should be time sensitive and we are having a work session to address the issues,” said the councilwoman, adding that the resolution had more of a “press release quality to it.”

The board will convene at Southampton Town Hall on Friday for a work session based on the capital program to begin at 10 a.m. 

Supervisor Explains $5 Million Discrepancy in ’05-’06 Fund

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Bill Jones

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Bill Jones, Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor

The newly appointed Deputy Supervisor on making government clearer for the public, getting some of the Fed’s Stimulus, and growing up in Sag Harbor. 

 I know you have worked in many levels of local government; could you give our readers some background on your accomplishments?

Sure, in 1988, I was elected trustee in the Sag Harbor village and served there for three years when George Butts was mayor. After that in 1992, I ran for Suffolk County legislature and I served as legislator for two short years, although it seems longer than that. After that, I went to work for the County Executive and I did governmental relations there — doing the county’s lobbying up in Albany for about four and a half years. Subsequent to that, became deputy commissioner of the County’s Department of Social Services, and then came here [town hall] when Linda Gill Martin retired, and Supervisor [Patrick “Skip”] Heaney asked if I would be interested in becoming director of human services, in 2004.

 

How have things changed in local government on the East End in the past few years as someone who has worked at so many levels of government?

Well there has just been an exponential increase in the complexity of running even the smallest unit of government, Mayor Ferraris, who is not running I just saw in the paper, indicated that the amount of time that local officials have to spend is incredible, because every single issue has so much detail. Whether it is by law or just that it is an issue that has been [talked about for] a long time there is a lot of history to many of them. And the resolutions are not self evident by many reasons and they take a lot of time.

Certainly 30 years ago the town board probably met for an hour once a month without any work sessions but now they have work sessions every week plus town board meetings every two weeks — along with all the other boards it’s not as simple as it used to be.

 

Have you seen many changes in village of Sag Harbor governmentally over the years?

Sag Harbor was lucky because it developed later than the rest of the Hamptons. The changes didn’t come piling on for a short period of time, although once it started, it certainly accelerated. Now there is Bulova, and what will happen there, and the other development projects can certainly change the character and the skyline of Sag Harbor, hopefully for the better, but in some cases probably not.

Now, about Ferry Road, [the proposed project next to 7-eleven], it has the potential in my view, but it is changing the skyline to the most negative of any project that is before Sag Harbor right now. It is just the most inappropriate place for a building that size and will make us look like any other discovered waterfront community. I would love for it to go away.

When I was on the village board I had proposed limiting the heights along the waterfront, unfortunately, we did not pass that. Now I really wish it had been enacted. I think it was two and a half stories we suggested at that time.

 

In your new role of deputy supervisor for the town what are some of the main responsibilities or requirements?

The primary function is to act in the absence of the supervisor … if the supervisor is absent from a work session or board meeting than I would conduct that particular meeting but of course I would have no vote. I’m just there to move the process along. I would also represent the supervisor and the town at different inter—governmental functions and meetings etcetera. But of course the job can evolve from there. In this case, the capital budget, and issues surrounding the capital budget and trying to get all the information throughout the years, to be able to update the board as to exactly what is the status of previous projects and as we move forward to make recommendations for future funding for the projects. And from there do whatever I can that can be helpful to the governmental process.

 

I know you haven’t been at the position long, but so far, has there been anything that has been really satisfying for you about your new position of deputy supervisor?

I do enjoy delving into budgets, because of how important I think they are for any municipality, school district or business. So the fact that I’ve come on at a time when we have to dig through the capital program — there is satisfaction for me with that.

I will be at each one of the discussions with regard to the capital as each department head discusses their program. I can lend some clarity — to something that is relatively complicated for those on the outside, [and explain that] the capital budget is different to the operational budget. The process from going from the plan to the actual approval and then to the funding – which can always get quite complicated in terms of the timing and receiving. The revenues for bonds or whatever source of funding it is, can be as clear as mud sometimes, but hopefully I can add some clarity to it.

 

How do you plan on helping the residents of the town understand some of these bigger issues and do you have any new public relations tools in order to keep the residents of the town informed?

Informing the public about municipal affairs is the most challenging part of government. People’s lives are very busy and a lot of the time they really don’t have the time to stay too focused on what’s going on, let alone a process that, in this particular case, is going to span a couple of months.

So we are lucky in Southampton, because we have Sea TV and it is available for the public to tune in. They can see the questions and answers that are going on and they can judge whether something good is happening or not happening … we realize the frustration of government in that the initial headline, which is in this case was negative to the process, is what the public gets to see first and then down the road, if the issue is resolved and it is not quite as bad or not bad at all, then gaining the public’s attention to the issue is often lost and that is frustrating, clearly we hope at the end of this process the board members will feel very comfortable with the process the department heads have followed, along with how we came upon the numbers we will present to them. As well as if we chose someone from the outside to look at our work to reassure them that it is all good. That will be a policy decision that they will make.

Last week, there was talk of a possible forensic audit, has there been any action with that?

Not that I’m aware of, I know it was talked about, but that again will be a policy decision that the board will make.

Personally, I don’t put a lot of credibility on audits. Why? Well, look at Enron, the school districts, look at other local governments on Long Island that all have auditors. What they offer, in my experience, having been around for a long time, is a snapshot in time, and they can change substantially in a short period of time. They don’t really offer a lot to the process in my view. And they can be costly.

Audits are a four letter word, in my view, because they don’t really help the process out.

 

What sort of advice could you give the residents in Southampton in light of the current state of the nation’s economy?

Another happy topic, [laughs], we need people to come out and buy homes — so much flows from that for our economy. Right now there is not a lot of confidence in the prices of homes, so the first challenge is for people to feel comfortable with the value, the actual true value in the area and once they get comfortable, we will start to see that happening.

People want to come out here, and more people would like to make it their year—round home, even coming from the city. I keep hearing stories about people wanting to get out of the city and come this way. And we welcome them. And so much flows from that whether it is contactors or suppliers and all those things that keep people employed, which is key to economic survival of people in our area.

Unfortunately, we have such a multitude of things cost—wise; from LIPA to gas and the list is long. It really makes it difficult for people, the doers here, to live unfortunately. There is not one easy answer to that dilemma.

 

Now what are you preparing for the town of Southampton and are there any plans thus far for the possible stimulus package from the federal government?

The town has prepared a list of infrastructure projects that are part of the stimulus package that the federal government is going to send money down to the state and eventually down to the localities. We have submitted our list to Senator [William] Schuman’s office, and Congressman [Tim] Bishop’s office as well as the state that hopefully will get on the list and some of those “shovel ready” projects might get funded through that process, which would be good.

On the other hand, we cannot put all our eggs in one basket, and while the town is in good shape now for 2009, the situation for 2010 is a different story. This year, a fair amount of that rainy day money, was utilized in order to keep the tax rate within the law and next year that money is not available, or there is a lot less of it, so the question is, how do we continue to fund town functions?

Somebody wants all of these things, otherwise I don’t think we would be doing them, and the moment, we propose to cut back some of those programs, or services, then that always gets the people’s attention — whether it is the town of Southampton, the village of Sag Harbor or Pierson High School, the issues are very real, fiscally, and will take some challenging and controversial decisions to try to keep the books balanced.

 

Could you tell me about your experiences living and watching Sag Harbor change?

I am both blessed and lucky to have grown up in Sag Harbor — it’s a wonderful town with an incredible history. The architecture is phenomenal, the people are phenomenal, and the families have had many good times together. But that is not to say there weren’t some downsides to living in a small town but overall it’s just a time I look back on with a lot of fondness and thankfulness of walking the streets of Sag Harbor … and ringing the bell at Pierson High School … those are some things that I look back on as some really good times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Sag Harbor Trustee to serve as Deputy Supervisor

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Bill Jones, deputy mayor southampton new york

Following concerns with the capital accounts within the Town of Southampton, it was decided on Monday that Richard Blowes would step down from the position of deputy supervisor. Both Blowes and Supervisor Linda Kabot agreed that his responsibilities would be more focused on implementing upgrades to the financial management systems within the Town for improved audit capabilities.

Blowes will now work solely under his other title, Town Management Services Administrator, in order to vet out the fiscal inconsistencies, which has been causing some outcry with members of the town board, in relation to capital projects and the capital budget. 

In a press release sent out from the supervisor’s office on Monday, it  stated that the board would do better without Blowes “having to wear two hats.”  

Bill Jones, the town’s Human Services Director, was appointed to the role of deputy supervisor on Monday.

Jones was born and raised in Sag Harbor where he previously served as a village trustee.  Jones also worked as Deputy Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services and as a Suffolk County Legislator. For the last five years, Jones has worked for the town of Southampton.

“My first order of business is going to be to resolve the issue with regards to the capital budget,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. He said he would like to explain the current fiscal condition for town government to the people of the Southampton. Jones also said that he would maintain his current responsibilities while taking on the requirements to fulfill the deputy supervisor position.

“I have always considered the budget to be the most important document that we publish,” Jones said, “and I want to focus on making it understandable and readable.” He also said he hopes to increase the communication between the town board members and the supervisor’s office as well as the community.

Two weeks ago, Blowes and the town board had a lengthy regular work session relating to changes to the Poxabogue Golf Course. At that work session it was revealed that the town’s checkbooks, associated with the Town’s Capital Program were not adding up to match the computerized records in the Comptroller’s Office for project authorizations provided to departmental managers — leading to a $19 million discrepancy between the two.

At the moment, in order to determine what has caused the discrepancy, the town board is taking a good look at all their capital projects and Blowes will be focusing on that.

When supervisor Kabot took her oath of office in January of 2008, one of her first moves was to nominate Blowes to the position of deputy supervisor to work closely with her. The responsibility of the deputy supervisor is to act administratively in the extended absence of the supervisor and to assist with carrying out various public relations functions. 

Bill jones is sworn in as deputy mayor