Tag Archive | "Bill Wilkinson"

Split East Hampton Town Board Adopts Airport Capital Improvement Plan

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Kathryn G. Menu

The East Hampton Town Board adopted a capital improvement plan for the East Hampton Airport during a work session Tuesday — a roadmap for $5.26 million in repairs and improvements consultants suggest be made to airport facilities over the course of the next five years.

Originally, the capital improvement plan (CIP) — unveiled just before a November 21 public hearing on the proposals — called for $10.45 million in airport repairs and projects over a five-year period. The adopted CIP was cut to $5.26 million with 15 proposed projects removed from the plan as they were not a part of the town board approved Airport Master Plan or Airport Layout Plan, both of which were vetted through environmental review.

The CIP was approved by the outgoing Republican majority of the town board. Airport liaison Dominick Stanzione, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted in support of the plan, with Democrats Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc voting against adopting the CIP.

East Hampton Airport manager Jim Brundige said the CIP is meant to highlight what projects are necessary at the airport. Quigley also noted that approving the CIP does not mean the board is approving any of the projects laid out in plan, or how has made a decision about how they will be funded. Rather she called the approval a “first step” in moving towards improvements at the airport first identified in the town’s airport master plan.

However, both Overby and Van Scoyoc expressed concerns about a footnote in the document that references Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding. The CIP, according to testimony given by town aviation consultant Dennis Yap at the November 21 public hearing on the plan, will be submitted to the FAA. Van Scoyoc said he was concerned submitting the plan to the FAA was the first step towards securing additional grants from that agency for airport projects.

“It’s not a necessary step for us to send it to the FAA unless we are pursuing funding from the FAA,” he said.

For several years now, a number of residents and members of the Quiet Skies Coalition have encouraged the town board not to accept FAA funding as they believe when grant assurances expire in December of 2014 the town has the ability to gain greater control of the airport, including the potential to impose curfews or restrict certain aircraft.

Town Supervisors Release Tentative 2013 Budgets

Tags: , , , ,

The tentative 2013 budgets for both East Hampton and Southampton towns are in. And both East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst are discussing fiscal restraint in their 2013 budget messages.

On September 25, Supervisor Throne-Holst presented her tentative budget to the Southampton Town Board.

The $82.7 million budget represents a zero-percent tax levy increase over the 2012 budget with an identical tax levy of $57 million, keeping it well below the state’s mandated two-percent property tax levy cap, said Throne-Holst

The budget does increase spending by about $2.4 million, primarily due to mandated costs like increases in salaries and benefits.

According to a budget message issued by Throne-Holst last week, the town’s ability to increase its fund balance in 2013 while maintaining a flat tax levy as mandatory costs like increases in insurance, retirement, workers compensation, legal fees, debt service costs and contractual expenditures increase is made possible by two key factors. First, over the last two years the town has reduced its staff by 18 percent and secondly, the town has accrued a surplus in operating funds.

In the tentative budget, staffing remains consistent, as do current town services and programs.

The budget also proposed to restructure the capital program to create a “pay as you go” fund in the operating budget.  That move, Throne-Holst said, will allow the town to reduce its borrowing costs, annual debt services costs and respond to unanticipated needs without a fund balance transfer.

“A goal of this budget was to limit our capital spending to $3 million, instead of the usual $8 to $10 million, in order to prepare for the peak in our debt service costs that will occur in 2014,” said Throne-Holst. “I firmly believe in a budget model that projects two years ahead so that we can anticipate these increases in costs, and plan accordingly. ”

“Transitioning some of the capital fund items into a pay-as-you-go fund is an example of a new practice that will allow us to better prepare for the peak in debt service, and also makes more sense from an operational perspective,” she added.

A public hearing on Throne-Holst’s tentative budget will be held on October 23 at 6 p.m. The Southampton Town Board is expected to vote on the budget on November 20, the state mandated deadline for budget adoption.

In East Hampton, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson submitted his budget just in time for the September 30 deadline.

That tentative 2013 spending plan proposes a $69 million budget, a $3.3 million or five percent increase over the approved 2012 budget.

However, according to Wilkinson’s budget message, the spending plan will not pierce the state mandated two-percent property tax levy cap. According to Wilkinson, the increase in the tax levy in this budget would be about 3.17 percent, however, because the town experienced a 1.73-percent decrease in its 2012 tax levy a portion of that decrease is credited to 2013, leaving East Hampton’s actual tax levy cap at 4.19 percent.

According to Wilkinson’s budget message, the proposed $3 million in additional spending contains $1,083,812 in increases tied directly to the town’s Scavenger Waste Plant and the East Hampton Airport.

The fate of the Scavenger Waste Plant —  an ongoing debate between town board members who are divided on what to do with the aging facility — will have to be born out during budget talks this fall. In his tentative budget, Wilkinson has only appropriated monies to run that facility for the first three months of 2013.

The budget also proposes to add a new position in the justice court, eliminating the need for the court to be closed one day a week and puts $559,000 total dollars into the contingency accounts for all funds for unanticipated expenses.

The 2013 tentative budget still represents a $2,68 million, or 3.74 percent decrease over the inherited 2010 budget of $71.7 million, noted Wilkinson. He adds that under his administration in the first three budgets, the tax rate for those living outside the villages has decreased by 13.19 percent, and for those living inside the villages the decrease has been 28.69 percent.

The East Hampton Town Board will host a public hearing on its budget at its November 1 meeting, with the board expected to vote on the spending plan on November 15 in advance of the state’s November 20 deadline.

East Hampton Republican, Conservative & Tea Party Leaders Endorse Altschuler for Congress

Tags: , , , , ,

At Hook Mill on Friday, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilpersons Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley endorsed St. James businessman Randy Altschuler’s second campaign for New York’s First Congressional District.

East Hampton Republican Party Chairman Kurt Kappel, East Hampton Town Conservative Party Chairman Vincent Downing and East End Tea Party Chair Lynda Edwards also endorsed the candidate who is vying for the Republican Party line in hopes of facing off against Congressman Tim Bishop for a second time. George Demos, a Ronkonkoma attorney who waged a primary battle against Altschuler in 2010, is also running for the seat.

“I am very grateful for the endorsement and support of East Hampton’s most important elected officials and party leaders,” said Altschuler in a statement. “East Hampton, under Bill Wilkinson’s leadership, is a model for the country. In the midst of the Obama-Bishop national economic calamity, Bill Wilkinson, Theresa Quigley and Dominic Stanzione have rescued East Hampton from fiscal ruin and the irresponsible management practices of the past. I also acknowledge the efforts of Vince Downing, Lynda Edwards, and Kurt Kappel, whose steadfast support of the Wilkinson administration’s policies are critical to East Hampton’s continued success.”

“[Randy Altschuler} will bring to the United States Congress, extraordinary intelligence, integrity and a solid record of job creation success,” said Supervisor Wilkinson.

Similar Issues, Different Tacks

Tags: ,

web supers

By Bryan Boyhan

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson may have more in common than most think. Aside from being the heads of governments in the two South Fork townships, they have faced many similar issues in the past two years — not the least is inheriting governments with crushing deficits.

The pair were the guests of the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons on Monday night at a public forum held at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton. An audience of about 50 tossed out questions and, finding common ground, gained a bit of insight into how the leaders addressed problems both big and small.

“You had to bring up the leaf pickup,” laughed Throne-Holst while Wilkinson smiled and rolled his eyes to a question from LWV member Judy Ross about how the two supervisors approached the issue so differently.

“Southampton went to brown bags and East Hampton just dropped the program cold turkey,” observed Ross.

“The decision was not made by the board, but by the highway superintendent,” Throne-Holst continued. This year, homeowners were not allowed to simply pile their leaves in front of their houses for pick-up (with some exceptions) as they had in years past. Instead they were to acquire town bags for pickup or haul the leaves themselves. The move was ostensibly to cut costs, but has been widely criticized.

“Once we’ve had the program for a full year we’ll be able to evaluate it better,” said Throne Holst. “If we were in better economic times, we could easily say this wouldn’t be as a big a problem.”

Wilkinson acknowledged that economics were a factor in his board’s decision to cancel the leaf program.

“No kidding, I was told in the first week [of his tenure] that we had to declare bankruptcy,” said Wilkinson who became supervisor just as the town was facing a multi-million deficit. “I had to decide what services I had to cut. Not cops, not lifeguards, not senior programs. That was the backdrop to the leaf decision.”

The economy has played a large role in both administrations. Throne-Holst inherited a broken process that left the town with a multi-million dollar deficit while Wilkinson’s predecessor put the town into a $30 million hole through mismanagement. Audience members wondered how such problems would not arise again.

“I’m under review by the state comptroller, which ratchets it up a bit,” said Wilkinson, who borrowed money from the state to make up the deficit. “We’re putting in controls that should have been there all along.”

“I think we share that,” said Throne-Holst. “Our issues are different, but they exposed a lack of control.” While Southampton didn’t pursue state financing, they have since added controls.

“There are new policies and procedures, from purchasing to overtime to transfer of funds; just about none of that can happen without town council resolution,” she said.

Audience member Nada Barry wondered what cooperative efforts there were between the towns and other municipalities in purchasing and shared services.

“It’s something we pursue on a regular basis,” said Wilkinson, although he conceded later there is little the towns do together.

“The savings are in purchasing through state contracts,” said Wilkinson. “Am I sitting down with Anna trying to figure out if we can save money on buying paper towels? No.”

“Savings are in bigger purchases,” agreed Throne-Holst, “which is why we’re looking at a health consortium.”

Throne-Holst explained that the supervisors from all the towns in Suffolk County are currently looking into a joint purchase of health insurance for their employees — notoriously one of the most expensive parts of a budget. She said a similar proposal through another association, the East End Mayors and Supervisors, stalled; but she is more confident the larger numbers will make it more appealing.

“It all has to do with the economy of scale,” she said.

Charges Dropped Against Natural Resources Department Director

Tags: , , , ,

The East Hampton Town Board dropped all charges against East Hampton Town Natural Resources Director Larry Penny last week, according to a joint press release issued by both the town and Penny’s attorney, Thomas Horn, Jr. of Sag Harbor.

Just hours prior to the release of the joint statement, the East Hampton Town Board voted to approve an agreement with Penny, who has led his department for the better part of three decades, during its Thursday night town board meeting.

However, according to the resolution, a deal was actually struck before the New Year, on December 30. While neither party has divulged the contents of the agreement, citing privacy concerns, according to Horn, Penny was pleased with the final outcome.

“The town and Mr. Penny hope that members of the press and public respect that desire for privacy and understand further comments will be limited, if there are any necessary comments to be made at all,” read the press release.

“Everyone involved is satisfied with the behind the scenes communications, explanations and rationale,” Horn later said on Monday afternoon preferring not to divulge the final agreement. “I think [Penny] is very happy with it.”

Last month, East Hampton Town Attorney John Jilnicki, on behalf of the town board, brought 16 charges of misconduct and incompetence against Penny, mostly related to the alleged storage of animal carcasses in the basement of the town’s natural resources department. Horn filed a formal answer to the allegations, but said that a community desire to see the matter settled amicably ultimately drove both sides to the table.

“There was input from leading members of the community urging that any issues be resolved in a positive and constructive manner,” states the press release. “This improved communication revealed that Mr. Penny had been actively investigating when to leave his position for several months. While the long-time employee has not submitted a letter of resignation, the town board is not interested in interfering with a timetable of Mr. Penny’s choosing.”

“The Penny family is expressing gratitude, and a sense of being overwhelmed by the number of calls from citizens and members of other agencies that have flooded their home phone,” the release continues. “The messages all include words of encouragement and thanks for their time spent with Mr. Penny and the work that has been done during his long tenure.”

According to Horn, Penny had actually reached out to him for counsel prior to any charges being filed, simply in anticipation of wanting to retire from the town and reach a fair settlement.

As a department head, Penny is a non-union member of the town’s workforce.

“I can tell you for the record that Mr. Penny has been considering a number of dates before charges were filed or any knowledge that charges would be filed,” said Horn on Monday. “I can say that because he called me with specific questions in October asked about timeframes for retirement.”

While no timeframe has been released for Penny’s retirement, Horn said that “Larry is already anticipating a successor, so obviously he is not thinking of this job in the long-term.”

“I hope the next man or woman is a scientist/naturalist interested in doing justice for nature and the environment,” said Penny in the release. “All through the years peopled wondered why I never caved to the pressure and criticism — my only secret was remembering all the people making demands is really a measurement of my department’s success.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson echoed the sentiment. According to the joint statement, the supervisor acknowledged that “while there have been differences and disagreements over certain issues, the town never doubted Larry’s commitment to preservation efforts.”

Without a Mandate

Tags: , , ,

In 2009, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson won his first election to lead the town with a clear mandate to clean up the financial mess — a $27 million deficit — left by the previous administration.

Wilkinson accomplished that and deserves credit for righting the town’s financial ship. However, with Wilkinson’s recent re-election to office, it is abundantly clear that many residents in East Hampton take issue with the Republican supervisor and some of the other decisions he has made at the helm of the town board during his tenure.

Wilkinson secured his post for a second term by a mere 15 votes. If one resident in each election district in East Hampton turned out in favor of his opponent, Zachary Cohen, not only would Wilkinson have lost the race, but the Republican Party would have ceded political power of the town board to the Democrats after just one term with a majority.

That Cohen, a chairperson of the town’s Nature Preserve Committee, but not a political heavyweight, was able to wrest so much support away from Wilkinson speaks volumes. So too does the fact that Democrats Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc both easily won their seats on the town board, besting candidates Wilkinson hand picked to run by his side.

This reality cannot be lost on the Republican members of the town board. A 15-vote win is not a mandate. It’s a message.

While Wilkinson has taken on fixing the town’s finances with fervor and a businessman’s acumen, when it has come to other issues within the town — and there are many — often it appeared as if the supervisor and his deputy, Theresa Quigley, had made up their minds long before taking their place on the dais.

On numerous occasions, residents have complained they feel they are not being heard, whether it was concerns over beach access, accessory apartment legislation, the airport, leaf pick-up, commercial fishing representation, and so on. We hope the Republican majority is now ready to listen.

There could be no more perfect time for this board to show the electorate has been heard than tonight’s public hearing on whether or not East Hampton Town should take funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to construct a deer fence at the East Hampton Airport.

The simple truth is that this public hearing was scheduled in an effort to push through a resolution that will extend grant assurances with the FAA — a move critics have said will prevent the town from gaining local control of its airport. It was scheduled before the outcome of the supervisor’s race when the Republican majority was aware there was a chance the Democrats, who have promised to hold off on taking FAA monies, may have taken control of the town board come January.

We believe it is this kind of politics that has been the undoing of not just this administration, but the one that came before it.

While it is reasonable to expect residents, and government leaders, to have differing views on a complex issue like the ever expanding East Hampton Airport, to not delay voting on what was one of the most hotly debated issues of the political season until Overby and Van Scoyoc can enter the discussion smacks of stubbornness and hubris.

It would also mean, once again, the residents of East Hampton have not been heard.

East Hampton Budget Adds More Funding for Project MOST

Tags: , , , , ,

On Thursday night, the East Hampton Town Board swiftly adopted its 2012 budget after increasing its contingency account by $20,000. According to town budget officer Len Bernard, that change in the spending plan was meant to increase funding to the after-school program Project MOST, although the current town board did not earmark the money specifically for the organization.

“I think that was done in an effort to give some of the new town board members some latitude in how much funding they give to Project MOST when they take office after the first of the year,” said Bernard on Monday morning. “They could actually take more out of the contingency account than $20,000 if they wanted to.”

Earlier this month, Democratic candidates Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc were elected to serve on the town board. They join Republican board members Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley. The supervisor’s race between incumbent Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and his challenger Zachary Cohen remains too close to call.

Parents, teachers and community members implored the town board to increase Project MOST’s funding at the town’s only public hearing on the budget on November 10.

Project MOST is a not-for-profit organization that provides after-school care and education to close to 300 students at The Springs School and in the East Hampton School District. In Supervisor Wilkinson’s preliminary budget, the town proposed to maintain its current level of funding for the organization at $10,000.

Facing an increase in the number of students, and parents, who rely on the after-school programming, as well as the fact that grant opportunities are contingent on town and school district support, the organization asked the town to increase its funding to $60,000 annually.

After Thursday night’s adoption of the budget, it appears the organization is halfway to its goal, now expected to receive at least $30,000 in financial support from the Town of East Hampton.

The final $65,731,372 adopted budget raises spending by just over 2.5 percent, although taxes will be reduced significantly in the villages within the Town of East Hampton. Residents outside of the incorporated villages will see a less than one-percent decrease, according to Bernard.

According to Supervisor Wilkinson’s original budget message, the increase in town spending is primarily due to a rise in the cost of employee benefits and, in part, to begin paying off the $27.3 million debt left by the previous administration.

In order to cut spending, Supervisor Wilkinson said he has “restructured” town government by merging departments and streamlining them, allowing employees to serve several functions within the town. Supervisor Wilkinson has also said discontinuation of the leaf pick-up program coupled with the closing of the town’s Recycling Center on Wednesdays has resulted in $700,000 in annual savings.

The budget also includes the sale of East Hampton Town’s portion of The Poxabogue Golf Center. The board agreed to sell its portion of the golf center to Southampton Town for $2.2 million earlier this fall. In addition to that revenue, Supervisor Wilkinson said he expects the town to collect an additional $200,000 from Southampton Town for golf center revenues it is owed for the last year.

Since the budget was presented to the town board, outside of the $20,000 placed in the contingency account for Project MOST, the board also increased $35,000 for the town’s Office of Housing and Community Development funding. Director Tom Ruhle reported he expects a smaller portion of funding from Section 8 housing administrative fees in 2012 and would need more financial support to run his department.

After a computer error, Bernard said the board also added about $60,000 to the budget to cover the cost of the town’s planning board.

According to Bernard, in the villages of Sag Harbor and East Hampton, residents can expect to see a 9.17-percent decrease in their taxes. For a home with a market value of $900,000, Bernard said that would result in a $79 savings. For residents living outside the villages, Bernard said the tax decrease was “minimal” and would result in less than $1 a year in savings.

Residents Call for More Project MOST Funding in East Hampton

Tags: , , , ,

As a child growing up in East Hampton, when she wasn’t playing after-school sports Christine Eberhart would go home after the school bell rang and wait a couple of hours for her parents to get home from work. That was 20 years ago, and the mother of two young children recognizes that in this day and age allowing her son and daughter to do the same thing is not a viable option.

Eberhart was one of several parents, teachers and community members who implored the East Hampton Town Board to increase funding for Project MOST during a public hearing on the town’s proposed 2012 budget.

The proposed $65.6 million budget shows a 0.2-percent tax cut for residents of the town who live outside the villages of East Hampton and Sag Harbor and a 9.4-percent reduction in taxes for town residents who reside within those villages.

While Supervisor Bill Wilkinson was able to reduce taxes, for the second year in a row, the town has seen a spending increase as the cost of employee benefits and paying off a $27.3 million deficit the town has incurred has added to the town’s non-discretionary spending needs.

Project MOST is a not-for-profit organization that provides after-school care and education to close to 300 students at The Springs School and in the East Hampton School District. While the town board has not cut Project MOST’s funding from last year — the organization is slated to receive $10,000 in the 2012-spending plan — the growth of the program and the fact that grant opportunities are contingent on town and school district support has meant the organization needs more funding if it is to survive.

The organization has asked the town board to increase its funding to $60,000 so it can continue to provide the service to the 275 students in East Hampton and Springs whose parents depend on the program, unable to get home from work until after 5 p.m.

As both a teacher and parent, on Thursday night Eberhart said she has seen the positive effects of Project MOST first hand.

“Children require a safe and productive environment to do their homework in, where they receive support, socialize and have the opportunity to experience new activities like yoga,” said Eberhart.

Springs resident and parent David Lys agreed and said his oldest daughter, a kindergartner at The Springs School, has thrived in the program.

“Project MOST allows me extra time to make that extra dollar to stay out here, and that is the goal — to stay here my whole life,” said Lys, who grew up in East Hampton.

Sag Harbor attorney Stephen Grossman, an East Hampton Town resident, echoed support for Project MOST and for the town funding social programs in general. Through a statement read by Averill Gues, Grossman was critical of the town board, which he said has budgeted $80,000 for security at the town’s justice court, but cannot find funding for children’s programming.

Grossman, who ran for town justice earlier this month, but was not elected, was also critical of the town justice’s salaries and called on an audit to show how much actual time each justice spends on the bench each month. The two town justices each receive a $70,346.46 salary.

Springs School Superintendent Michael Hartner added that Project MOST is not just an after-school homework club, but a program that provides enrichment.

He added that Project MOST can only receive grants equal to the financial support given to the organization by the town and school districts.

Teacher Dan Hartnett, a former Sag Harbor School Board member, said imagining John M. Marshall Elementary School without Project MOST is difficult at best.

“Project MOST is more than just babysitting,” said Hartnett. “It provides academic enrichment and support, as well as recreation for children who in the age of testing have had a long, stressful day.”

“For me, the question is where are the priorities of the town,” he said. “What better program could you fund as affordably?”

Sylvia Overby, who was elected to the town board last week alongside her Democratic Party running mate Peter Van Scoyoc, said she would like to see funding increased for the program as well.

“This is the time to grab them and this is the time to make sure they become the good citizens we need in East Hampton and have in East Hampton,” she said.

Overby said she was concerned that the town has not budgeted any monies to run the Scavenger Waste Facility in Springs — a $1.2 million department, Overby said was essentially deleted from the budget.

Since last Spring, the town board has been talking about leasing the facility to a private operator to run, rather than having the plant run by the town.

“We actually don’t know what we are doing yet,” said Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley.

“Why would we delete it from the budget if we don’t know what we are doing yet,” asked a puzzled Overby, who said she was concerned without any monies outside of $57,000 that budget officer Len Bernard said was budgeted to transition the facility into private operation.

On Tuesday, during the town board work session, the board passed a resolution allowing the town to request proposals for private companies looking to operate the facility.

Last Thursday, Overby also asked the board to consider hiring part time employees for the town’s planning department, noting it would give the town expert opinions without the cost of health insurance.

Supervisor Wilkinson noted that the reason positions have not been re-hired within the town once people resigned was an effort to reduce the size of town government without having to resort to layoffs in the future.

The town board is expected to consider adopting the proposed 2012 budget at tonight’s town board meeting at 7 p.m. in town hall.

LTV Studios Audited by East Hampton Town

Tags: , , , ,

Following an audit by the East Hampton Town’s budget office of Local T.V., Inc., known locally as LTV Studios, the East Hampton Town Board began discussing internal controls it would like to put in place as it looks towards a new contract with the studio to provide public access to residents in East Hampton Town.

The town’s contract with LTV is up for renewal in November of 2012.

On Tuesday, during a town board work session, budget officer Len Bernard presented the findings of the audit, which was completed by certified public accountant Charlene Kagel.

According to Bernard, through Cablevision franchise fees the town collects, LTV received about $640,000 from the town last year.

That accounts for seven-eighths of the studio’s overall budget said Bernard, with a small portion of funding coming from the Village of East Hampton and through outside fundraising.

As East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson noted, the town is not required to give the 80 percent of Cablevision franchise fees to LTV, as it does, and could spend the money elsewhere if the town board felt it was warranted.

In his report on the audit, Bernard said that “generally speaking” Kagel found LTV did spend the money it received on equipment, services and other items related to its mission, which is to provide public access to the residents of East Hampton Town.

The studio does have an external audit performed each year, added Bernard, and those audits are available to town board members.

Despite spending the money correctly, Bernard said the studio does not follow a procurement policy that ensures it the best price possible on a service, or if it does, documentation is not available to show it is following that practice.

The budget office believes if the town negotiates a new contract with the board of directors of LTV it should require the studio follow the town’s procurement policy or at least the procurement policy laid out under general municipal law.

Another suggestion from the budget office is that the town require LTV to show what equipment, or hard costs, are purchased with town monies. That equipment, said Bernard, should LTV cease to serve as the public access agent for the town, would become town property and without a record it is impossible to discern exactly what would belong to the town should the studio shut down and what would belong to LTV.

Town board member Dominick Stanzione said he would also like to explore having LTV come to the town board, like all other town departments, and request its budget rather than simply get the money up front.

While LTV could very well show the studio’s budget is critical to keep at its current level, he said, it is ideal for them to follow the same practice of any other department within the town.

Democrats Take Town Board Election in East Hampton While Supervisor’s Race Remains Uncertain

Tags: , , , , , , ,

web EH Election Night_4366

There were no concession speeches offered in the race for East Hampton Town Supervisor on Tuesday night, with a small margin of votes separating the incumbent Republican supervisor and the Democratic Party challenger.

According to the Suffolk County Board of Election’s (BOE) unofficial results, Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has narrowly defeated Democratic Party candidate Zach Cohen by just 177 votes.

However, with at least 700 absentee ballots yet to be counted by the BOE, Cohen has not conceded defeat, on Wednesday saying it would likely be a week, if not two, before a final victor is named in the contest.

As of early Wednesday morning, unofficial results out of the BOE showed Wilkinson earning 3,066 votes, about 51 percent of the vote with Cohen trailing, carrying 48 percent of the vote with 2,889 ballots cast in his favor.

“To tell you the truth, I am a little disappointed because of the amount of work we have accomplished in a short 22 months,” said Wilkinson on Wednesday morning. “To see the race this tight means that the priorities of the community are different than just providing straight tax reductions, cutting the budget, trying to save the middle class and other things.”

Wilkinson said at the same time, he will be “reflective” about how close the race is and what kind of changes he will need to make at the helm if he is re-elected.

“You have to ask yourself why it was so close,” he said. “Improvement has to be made as a result of that.”

“I remain very positive,” said Cohen on Wednesday morning, although he said in every analysis he has completed on how the absentee ballots could fall, it really is anyone’s race for the supervisor’s seat.

According to Cohen, East Hampton Town residents had applied for 1,050 absentee ballots. A total of 766 had been handed in as of Monday, including close to 400 from Democratic Party members, 213 from Republican Party members, and the remainder split between third and unlisted party members.

“It is not so far fetched an idea that I could come out the winner,” said Cohen. “My odds are better than the New York State Lottery.”

What was certain by 10 p.m. on Tuesday night was that Democratic candidates for town board — Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc — comfortably won the two open seats on the East Hampton Town Board. Independence Party candidates Marilyn Behan and Bill Mott offered their concessions on Tuesday night, along with Republican town board hopefuls Steven Gaines and Richard Haeg.

According to the BOE, Van Scoyoc was the top vote getter, earning 2,689 or 23 percent of the vote. He was followed by Overby, who had 21 percent of the vote with 2,475 ballots cast in her favor. Haeg earned 1,738 votes, followed by Gaines who brought in 1,702 votes, with Independence Party candidates Mott and Behan earning 1,610 and 1,331, respectively.

On Wednesday, Van Scoyoc said support for the Democratic candidates, he believed, came from their platform on addressing quality of life issues in the town, and preserving the very reasons so many residents love to call East Hampton home.

“People want us to be careful with planning and proceed in government in a way that preserves all that we have,” said Van Scoyoc.

He added that he hopes to work with Republican members of the town board in a bi-partisan effort to do what is best for East Hampton.

“I will be looking for ways to bring people together and deal with issues in an open and effective manner,” he said.

“I really think our message was about the quality of life people have enjoyed and expected in living out here,” agreed Overby. “And it has really gone off the rails, which is why I think we saw things turn around so quickly.”

Overby said she plans to focus on ensuring the Community Preservation Fund continues to operate, and that she would like to look into chain store legislation in East Hampton that could protect the community character of downtown areas. Aiding farmers and creating legislation to allow that industry to thrive is another top priority, as is pushing the town board to use the professional expertise found within the town’s planning department — a department she feels has been overlooked in the last two years.

Where Republicans did rally was in the town highway superintendent, town justice and town trustee races where Democratic candidates were handily defeated.

In the highway superintendent race, Republican Party candidate Stephen Lynch routed incumbent Democratic Scott King, earning 3,567 votes to King’s 2,387. Lynch was one of the first winners declared on Tuesday night at Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett — the Republican Party headquarters for the evening.

Similarly, incumbent Republican town justice, and acting Sag Harbor Village Justice, Lisa Rana was re-elected to her seat, earning 3,701 or 63-percent of the vote, over her Democratic challenger Stephen Grossman, who brought in 2,178 votes.

In the town trustee race, Republicans Stephanie Talmage-Forsberg, Timothy Bock, Diane McNally, Sean McCaffery Joseph Bloecker, Lynn Mendelman and Nathaniel Miller were elected to that board, along with Democrats Stephen Lester and Deborah Klughers.

Unopposed in their elections, the town’s assessors — Jeanne Nielsen and Jill Massa also kept their positions within the town.