Tag Archive | "linda kabot"

Anna Throne-Holst Wins Southampton Town Supervisor Race; Town Council Still Too Close to Call

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Incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst watches the election results with, from left to right, sons Sebastian and Max and daughter Karess on November 5.

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

It appears Independence and Democratic Party candidate Anna Throne-Holst has secured a third term as Southampton Town Supervisor, beating Republican challenger Linda Kabot.

Alex Gregor also had a strong showing Tuesday night in the race to keep his position as Superintendent of Highways, coming out ahead of challenger David Betts.

Several races remain undecided, with 879 absentee ballots yet to be counted, town council candidate Brad Bender said Wednesday.

According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections unofficial results, with 42 of 42 districts reported, Throne-Holst secured 7,081 votes, or 58.63 percent of ballots cast. Kabot earned 4,985 votes, or 41.27 percent.

“This was a hard fought campaign and I think what I would like to say is we are now the poster child for running a clean, above board, above the issues [campaign], talking about what really matters to people and not going down in the mud,” Throne-Holst said in her acceptance speech late Tuesday night at the Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton. “I think people recognize that we genuinely have been there to help, we genuinely have been there to make a difference.”

Kabot conceded the race late Tuesday and said Wednesday that she was unsure whether she would seek public office again.

“I’m very proud of my grassroots campaign, we focused on the truth,” said Kabot. “We’re dealing with a well-funded incumbent who has manipulated the facts to her advantage and ultimately, the voters have made their choice, so we move forward.”

Newly reelected County Legislator Jay Schneiderman called the night “a historic moment in the Town of Southampton,” reminding the crowd that no non-Republican supervisor has had a majority on the town board since Thiele was supervisor in the early 1990s. If either Brad Bender or Frank Zappone is elected, Throne-Holst will have a Democratic majority on the board.

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In the highway superintendent contest, according to the unofficial results, as of Wednesday morning Gregor had secured 7,259 votes, or 61.87 percent of the vote, earning him another term while 4,470 votes were cast for David Betts, giving him 38.1 percent of the vote

In uncontested races, Sandy Schermeyer was elected town clerk and Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson were appointed to the two open town justice positions.

With the remaining districts and absentee ballots yet to be counted, the races for two seats on the town board and five trustee positions are too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning, the unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections places Republican Stan Glinka in the lead in the town council race with 5,857 votes, or 25.85 percent of votes cast. Bender, an Independence party member cross-endorsed by the Democratic party, is in second place with 5,746 votes, or 25.36 percent. Trailing Bender by just 143 votes, Republican Jeff Mansfield has so far earned 5,603 votes, or 24.73 percent of ballots cast. With 5,445 votes and 24.03 percent, Democrat Frank Zappone trails Mansfield by 158 votes.

“I think the indications are things are in a state of flux,” Zappone said Wednesday morning. “It appears as if there’s a significant number of uncounted votes — that could shift the standing significantly or not at all. It’s very difficult to tell at this point, so one has to be patient, sit back and see what evolves.”

Early Wednesday, Mansfield said he was busy driving around town picking up lawn signs and taking down billboards.

“It could be a lengthy process,” he said, “So we will respect the process and see what happens, but I think at this time it’s premature to say one way or another.”

Bender was likewise committed to removing campaign signs Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to let those people have their voice and let those ballots be looked at,” he said of the absentee ballots. “We’ll let the board of elections sort it out and we’ll celebrate when we have an actual result.”

Stan Glinka could not be reached for comment.

The race for Southampton Town Trustee, in which eight candidates vied for five available seats, also cannot be determined at this time. The candidates leading thus far are the three incumbents running; Bill Pell leads the pack with 8,933 votes, or 17.64 percent of votes cast. Eric Shultz has earned 8,746 votes, or 17.27 percent and Ed Warner, Jr. is in third place with 7,161 votes, or 14.14 percent.

Trailing the incumbents are: Scott Horowitz with 6,399 votes, or 12.63 percent; Raymond Overton with 5,436 votes or 10.73 percent; Howard Pickerell, Jr. with 5,163 votes or 10.19 percent; John Bouvier with 4,953 votes or 9.78 percent; and Bill Brauninger with 3,812 votes, or 7.52 percent.

All elected officials will take office on January 1, 2014.

Southampton Town Supervisor Candidates Argument Focuses on Finances

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By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Southampton Town Supervisor candidates Anna Throne-Holst and Linda Kabot have faced off in numerous debate and forums throughout town in recent weeks. They sparred again on Thursday, with both parties making allegations that ranged from fiscal irresponsibility to political smear tactics and even deep-rooted corruption.

At the debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and moderated by Carol Mellor, the candidates were allowed 15 minutes of response time to use at their own discretion, either to answer questions or for rebuttals. Questions were posed by Joe Shaw, executive editor of the Press News Group, Sag Harbor Express editor and publisher Bryan Boyhan and Judy Samuelson of the league, as well as members of the audience, who filled the room at Rogers Memorial Library  in Southampton beyond capacity.

Incumbent Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member cross endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties, was elected to the town board as a council member in 2007 and beat Kabot, a Republican also running on the Conservative Party line, in the supervisor’s race in 2009. In her opening statement, Kabot, who served as councilwoman from 2002 to 2007 and as Southampton supervisor from 2008 through 2009, alleged that Throne-Holst falsely claimed that Kabot caused the prior budgetary problems and mismanaged the town. Both candidates agreed that this election is about “the truth” and alleged that their opponent was taking credit for their own successful financial management.

Referring to a debate hosted by the Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association October 9, Shaw asked Kabot, “you were asked what your qualifications were for supervisor and your answer was that you were married with children and were a homeowner, what did you mean by those remarks?”

Kabot said the phrasing was incorrect and untruthful and noted that no reporters were present at that debate. She referred to similar statements on her website, which states: “As a property owner, I can better represent the majority of taxpayers and voters in Southampton Town. As a married mother of three children, I can provide values-based leadership with deep roots in the community.”

“What I meant by that,” she explained, “was as a homeowner and a taxpayer, my husband and I receive a tax bill and we know what the impact is of increased taxes to our budget and a renter doesn’t receive a tax bill.”

Kabot maintained the person who posed the initial question was a member of the town Democratic Committee.

“They’re the ones writing the letters to the paper to indicate that this is about single mothers or something about somebody’s marital status,” she said. “It has nothing to do with that. That is political spin and it is wrong.”

Throne-Holst responded that the original question was submitted by an unknown member of the audience and asked by a moderator.

“I find it curious that you feel better able to protect people’s taxes as a homeowner,” she said to Kabot. “I will remind everyone that Linda Kabot raised everyone’s taxes by a full 15 percent as supervisor and I have raised them zero.”

“I know that I am a single mother,” continued Throne-Holst, who has four grown children. “I know that as a result of a very painful divorce, I am no longer a homeowner. Maybe someday I will be but now I am not. Sixty percent of our residents live in single households and 40 percent of our residents do not own property and you all have my assurance single mother or married, property owner or not, I represent you equally.”

“Again, someone’s marital status has nothing to do with it,” countered Kabot. “It’s political nonsense being stirred just like the statements are out there that I single-handedly raised taxes 15 percent — this is an untruth.”

Kabot said that corrective tax levies were put forward in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that Throne-Holst voted for as a councilwoman.

“These were the correct things to do,” Kabot said. “And it’s easy to spin it and twist it and distort it but I’m proud of my record as your supervisor of doing the brave and necessary things to do.”

The candidates used a significant portion of their allotted 15 minutes to continue back and forth on Shaw’s question.

“I don’t think you talk about value-based representation because you are married,” said Throne-Holst. “The clear implication is if you are not you do not espouse those values. All I can say is I’ve been your supervisor for four years; you don’t achieve these numbers based on someone else’s work.”

“It’s not about taking credit. It’s not about passing blame. It’s about moving forward,” concluded Kabot.

Boyhan asked the candidates to what degree their administration should prepare for the “continued dramatic and inevitable erosion of our ocean shoreline,” as well as their position on shore-hardening structures.

Throne-Holst said the issue has been at the forefront of her administration and voiced her opposition to shore-hardening structures, which she said help one property while adversely affecting those around it.

“We have taken a hard stance on them in the Town of Southampton, we will not permit them going forward,” she said.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of erosion control districts in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton, which allow for oceanfront homeowners to be taxed separately in order to fund a $26 million beach re-nourishment project that is expected to add 60 to 70 feet of beach, adding that she is working with other areas of the town interested in pursuing similar projects.

Kabot also opposes shore-hardening structures. She advocates improved relocation efforts in the event of major storms and said that although the nourishment project is beneficial, “there’s no guarantees that that sand is going to stay in place.”

Her criticisms of the project, she said, have to do with the use of park reserve funds, $1.7 million of which were used to fund the pavilion and public beach access areas of the erosion control districts.

“Those [erosion control district] homeowners are very grateful for the work that has been done in local government to see to it that the beach nourishment has been brought forward and they are contributing very heavily to the supervisor’s reelection campaign,” Kabot alleged.

Samuelson asked an audience member’s question about what obstacles the candidates would remove in order to allow more business and private sector jobs.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of an economic development task force in the Riverside/Flanders area, which she said secured a total of almost half a million dollars worth of grants.

“That will probably bring the most amount of jobs to this area when it comes to fruition,” she said.

The supervisor also spoke of the “major job creation possibilities” posed by the Clean Water Coalition, a regional task force she developed, and its “bringing the manufacturing and marketing of those technologies to this area.”

Kabot said she would enact the targeted redevelopment of blighted sites by “incentivizing certain sites so that there would be investment by private developers to allow for the creation of a tax base to create more jobs.”

She is committed to reestablishing a small business office in Town Hall in order to help local business officers get through the regulation process and aims to increase senior and affordable housing, rethink rental laws and review permit standards.

“We have to work at the government level to get out of the way so that businesses can create those jobs,” Kabot said. “We have to simulate business by allowing the government red tape to be lessened and in some cases we need to facilitate their ability to get through the board of health because that is one of the biggest things that holds up a number of businesses.”

“The business advisory group does exactly what Linda’s talking about,” replied Throne-Holst. “They help expedite, they help business owners through the process. So been there, done that already. As far as the Health Department goes, we cannot expedite that. It’s a nice thing to say but we can’t. It’s a county permitting authority, we have actually no control over that.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” the supervisor said in her closing argument. “I love my job, I love serving all of you and I will bring the same level of commitment, enthusiasm and service to this job should I have your vote.”

Kabot concluded the debate, “Together we can take back our town from special interests, restore honesty and integrity and capability to that supervisor’s office and we can bring back the only true independent candidate who cannot be bought.”

The supervisor election will be held on November 5.

Southampton Supervisor Candidates Debate CPF Future

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As a write-in candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor, former Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot has not had a formal debate against incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst on the issues facing Southampton Town.

But at this week’s Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting, the two clashed, while basically remaining on the same page, over the town’s desire to borrow over $100 million against the Community Preservation Fund (CPF). The money would be borrowed over the course of the next four years in order to purchase around 2,000 acres in Southampton Town.

Following a 2012 budget presentation on Monday night by Throne-Holst, who is the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party candidate in the November 8 election for supervisor, Kabot approached the board with her pitch for candidacy in the uncontested race. Kabot, with retiring Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Grabowski seated at her side, said she was running in an effort to give town residents a choice in who should lead the town board through 2014.

Kabot began by stating it was under her lead, not Throne-Holst, that the town began getting its finances together through the aid of the town comptroller Tamara Wright.

“Immediately, in 2008, I set a course of financial management to move us through the turmoil,” she said.

Kabot questioned that the full Democratic Party slate, which includes Throne-Holst, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and candidate Brad Bender, has taken credit in its advertising for restoring the town’s bond rating. Kabot said it was a feat attained in February 2010, before Fleming was elected in a special March 2010 race.

“We transitioned to a new town supervisor who worked diligently for the town, and I will not take that away from her,” said Kabot.

Kabot said the town should continue to cut spending, in particular because the economy nationwide is still sagging and the tax base is not growing. She added residents she has spoken to are also concerned about code enforcement and protecting property values. Taking care of the highway department roads and ensuring the preservation of the town’s leaf program is also important, said Kabot.

“The local economy is in a recession still and we need to do more for our local businesses to encourage them to foster and grow,” said Kabot, calling for a more streamlined regulatory process for minor changes on a property or in a business.

However, it was when Kabot tackled the CPF that a debate erupted between she and Throne-Holst.

Kabot charged that Throne-Holst was proposing a $125 million bond act that would borrow against CPF to purchase properties in the town immediately.

“I do agree we need to extend our purchasing power, but not to the tune of $125 million,” said Kabot.

She said if the CPF failed to perform as hoped, the town may have to dip into its general fund to cover such an expense. Kabot advocated looking towards a $50 million bond instead.

“The CPF isn’t merely there to willy-nilly buy open space,” said Throne-Holst. “It is here to protect our greatest economic engine, the viability of our environment.”

Throne-Holst said the $125 million proposal was “not random,” but a figure conceived by the town’s Community Preservation Fund committee, a bi-partisan group, that has targeted 2,000 acres for preservation in Southampton Town. The supervisor called the properties “critical,” much of it active farmland and watershed properties that if developed could negatively impact the town.

Throne-Holst noted many of the committee members are fiscal conservatives, but that the whole group supports this idea, particularly when facing the reality that real estate prices are now at an all time low and the town could save millions purchasing property now, rather than in 10 years.

She added the concept does not involve seeking a $125 million bond, as Kabot suggested.

“It would be done over a four-year period, which means we can opt out at any time should anything dramatic happen to the economy,” said Throne-Holst, who added that the town could look to borrow as little as $30 million in the first year of the program.

Bridgehampton CAC resident Janice Delano said that from a financial perspective, Throne-Holst’s plan made sense given the current real estate market.

However, chairman Fred Cammann said he was wary of leveraging anything given the financial nightmare that emerged in 2007 and 2008 because financial institutions were doing just that.

Water Mill CAC Co-Chairman Steve Abramson countered that even the CPF architect, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has advocated in favor of borrowing against the CPF, as has former Governor George Pataki.

“We know if we don’t spend it now to buy a certain amount of real estate in a few years we will spend the same money for less property,” said Abramson.

Delano added it wasn’t very long ago that she remembered the same people bristling at the concept at Monday night’s meeting supporting a similar idea just a few years back.

“In 2008, the world changed,” said Cammann.

Ultimately, Throne-Holst said, Kabot proposing a $50 million bond is more aggressive than the $30 million she hopes to bond for in the first year of what she sees as a long-term plan for CPF.

“This does not have any party affiliation tied to it,” she said. “This is a commitment to preserving the character and economic engine of our town, which is our environment. And that, in fact, is preserving property values in Southampton.”

Former Police Chief Settles with Sag Harbor Village

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Former Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Joseph Ialacci has dropped a $7 million lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor and its health insurance administrators and has agreed to pay $40,000 that should have been billed to Medicare rather than the village’s health insurance plan.

That money is being reimbursed to the village through Medicare, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

According to village sources, Ialacci used his village health insurance to cover $70,000 in health care bills that the village maintains should have been covered through Ialacci’s Medicare insurance, which was his primary insurance at the time.

Ialacci’s attorneys maintained the situation was simply an oversight on the former police chief’s part, and that he was unaware Medicare was his primary insurance carrier, not the village.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting in late December of last year, the village board voted to drop Ialacci and his wife, Nancy, from village insurance after they said Ialacci failed to reimburse the village through Medicare for the alleged false charges.

In mid-January, the board of trustees re-instated Ialacci’s coverage retroactively to December, but in May, in an effort to protect his rights while the village investigated the situation, the former police chief filed a $7 million suit against the village and Island Group Administrators of East Hampton.

On Tuesday, October 11 at the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Gilbride announced the village and Ialacci had reached a settlement.

According to the settlement agreement, Ialacci has agreed to pay $40,224 back to the Village of Sag Harbor. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said a certified check is already in the hands of Ialacci’s attorney. In turn, the village will reimburse the family for any Medicare premiums paid by the Ialaccis for coverage for the remainder of his life, as per his contract with the village when he retired from his post as police chief.

Support for Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority

At a press conference on Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Babylon Town Supervisor and Democratic candidate for the Suffolk County Executive position Steve Bellone announced their unified support for the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also attended the press conference, which took place at the Southampton Long Island Railroad (LIRR) station. Congressman Tim Bishop has also voiced his support for the creation of the authority, which would the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on the East End of Long Island.

Suffolk County legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine also support the implementation of the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Bellone has said enacting the authority will be one of his first goals if elected as the next Suffolk County Executive on November 8.

The Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, according to a 2009 report from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, would use a coordinated shuttle train and passenger bus service to provide for the transportation needs of those on the East End of Long Island, which Thiele says spends millions of dollars to the MTA without reaping the benefits of comprehensive service.

Repairs Slated for Route 27

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will repair several sections of State Route 27, also known as Montauk Highway, east of County Road 39 sometime in the next year, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

According to a press release issued by Thiele on Tuesday afternoon, the NYSDOT responded to his request back in October that the agency address sections of Route 27 that are in dire need of repair.

They will repair eastbound sections of the roadway near Deerfield Road in Water Mill, at Sayre’s Path, Georgica Drive and Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott and at Hampton Place in East Hampton. The NYSDOT will also repair the westbound portion of Route 27 at Sayre’s Path.

“The DOT has again committed to undertake repair of NY 27 and will address the most egregious pavement sections on NY 27,” said Thiele. “While the orad must still by fully resurfaced as soon as possible, these repairs will at least make the journey safer and less bone rattling for the traveling public.”

Swimming Pool and Pool House Approved by Sag ARB

In one of their shorter sessions as of late, the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) approved one application during its Thursday, October 13 meeting, granting Mike Arena approval for the installation of a swimming pool and pool house at his 97 Glover Street residence.

A second application, for a solid cedar fence along the existing driveway of Robert Fishers’ Fishers Home Furnishings on Main Street was tabled as no one was present to make the case.

The Sag Harbor ARB’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 24 at 5 p.m.

Marine Park Way is Now Veterans Way

Sag Harbor’s Marine Park will keep its name for now, but the roadway that circles the hallowed park on Bay Street will be renamed Veterans Way at the request of the Sag Harbor VFW Post 9082, according to a resolution adopted by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday, October 11.

The roadway circles the expansive waterfront Marine Park, which holds a World War II memorial plaque dedicated to the men and women from Sag Harbor who served during that conflict, as well as memorials to service men and women who served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Groundbreaking for Sidewalks Turnpike Sidewalks

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will host a ground breaking for the construction and installation of sidewalks on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike on Thursday, October 20 at 2 p.m. at the corner of Sunrise Avenue just south of the South Fork Natural History Museum.

The project was included in the Suffolk County 2011-2013 Capital Program. The Town of Southampton has contributed $100,000 to the cost.

The traffic and safety improvement, an issue Schneiderman championed as a legislator, will cover a two-mile stretch of sidewalk on the west side of the turnpike.

“The turnpike is used by many pedestrians including those who live in neighborhoods behind or along the route and is a major connector between the Village of Sag Harbor and the hamlet of Bridgehampton,” noted Schneiderman in a press release issued this week.

Bridgehampton CAC to Host 2012 Budget Talk

Just weeks before the 2011 election for Supervisor, incumbent Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will pitch her proposed $80.3 million spending plan for 2012 in front of Bridgehampton residents at the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton National Bank.

Throne-Holst’s proposed $80.3 million spending plan cuts the town budget by $1.3 million, resulting in a zero-percent tax levy increase while the town is facing over $5 million in mandated increases in costs to cover programs like health insurance and pensions.

In order to accomplish this goal, in part, Throne-Holst has proposed to eliminate 28 positions throughout the town, with eight of those positions coming directly out of the senior staff of the Southampton Town Police Department.

Throne-Holst has proposed to use the town’s ability to “separate from service” officers who have worked for the town for more than 20 years. Those officers will retain full benefits upon retirement, and Throne-Holst has said she will look at those who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the $1.7 million in cuts she hopes to make within the police department’s budget.

Following Throne-Holst’s presentation, former Southampton Town Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot is slated to speak at 8 p.m. With Throne-Holst running unopposed this fall, Kabot has launched a write-in campaign to regain her seat at the helm of Southampton Town.

Agricultural Forum to be Held in Riverhead

The New York State Senate Agricultural Committee Chairwoman Patty Ritchie will host the third of three agricultural business forums on Thursday, October 20 at 1 p.m. in Riverhead Town Hall.

According to a press release issued by the Long Island Farmers Bureau, the forum will focus on how to make New York State a better place for farmers to do business.

Farmers who cannot attend during the tail end of the harvest season are encouraged to submit their comments to the New York Senate Agricultural Committee by calling 518-455-3438.

Southampton Town Tightens 2012 Budget

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By Claire Walla

Elements of the 2012 tentative budget met with stiff resistance last Monday, October 3 when Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst presented her $80.3 million spending plan. The tentative budget — just shy of this year’s current $81.6 million operating budget — seeks to impose a zero-percent tax levy increase, while at the same time absorbing a $5.1 million increase in fixed costs for state-mandated programs like health insurance and pensions.

For the average homeowner on the Southampton side of Sag Harbor Village  with a house valued at $600,000, town taxes are estimated to be $236, which is $25 lower than the approximate amount village residents paid in 2010.

Based on this year’s tentative budget, a town homeowner outside an incorporated village can expect to pay $835 in town taxes for a home assessed at $600,000. This is estimated to be an $18 increase from 2010.

Your tax rate can be calculated by multiplying each $1,000 of assessed value of your home by 1.391. So, for a home worth $600,000, you would multiply 600 by 1.391 to get $835. That would be your projected tax rate for Southampton Town outside of incorporated villages.

These figures do not include school district taxes.

In order to shrink the town’s budget by more than $5 million without raising taxes, Throne-Holst said it will require taking a “surgical” look at how the town’s services are staffed, organized and presented to the public. While the supervisor has outlined plans for eliminating upwards of 28 positions across all departments, the most sweeping change, for some, will affect law enforcement.

The proposal to cut eight to 10 members of the Southampton Town Police Department’s senior staff is “outrageous,” said a noticeably flustered Councilwoman Nancy Graboski in an interview directly following the supervisor’s presentation.

In order to chop $1.7 million from the police department’s budget, Throne-Holst seeks to implement the town’s “Twenty Years of Service” provision, which, by law, gives the town the authority to “separate from service” those officers who have worked for the town for 20 years or more, awarding them full retirement benefits upon departure. However, Throne-Holst said the town will only have to narrow-in on those eight officers who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the desired amount of savings.

Throne-Holst said she recognized this tactic will remove senior and therefore more experienced officers from the force, but she added that the department will be able to “fill [positions] from below at a much lower cost.”

This maneuver also feeds into the supervisor’s plan — which was jointly created with Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilson — to make the department less “top heavy.”

“The idea is to have more cops and cars on the streets,” rather than in the office doing more administrative tasks, she said.

However, Graboski said she feels it is rather hasty for the town to reorganize the police department from the top down without a more strategic plan for replacing personnel.

“That infrastructure hasn’t been put in place,” she said.

Graboski referred to a plan that was suggested back in 2008 by the then-supervisor, Linda Kabot, to gradually trim the police force by two to three officers each year. It was never enacted.

“The important thing was to use objective criteria,” she continued.

According to Kabot’s suggestion at the time, officers’ attendance records would be reviewed over a five-year term and those officers with weaker performance records would be let go.

In an interview on Monday, Kabot — who had attended the supervisor’s budget presentation — seemed equally perturbed by the proposed budget cuts.

“These proposals [to cut the police force, implement staff layoffs and reorganize departments at town hall] are dusting off ones I had put on the floor a few years ago,” she announced.

Kabot, who is mounting a write-in campaign for supervisor against Throne-Holst in this fall’s election, further criticized the proposed plan to make cuts to the police department only at the very top.

“It is clearly a public statement on the newly founded Superior Officers’ Association (SOA),” said Kabot.

Several members of the SOA attended Monday’s meeting to voice their concerns.

Cutting eight employees “will be devastating to the police department,” Sergeant Michael Zarrow said on behalf of the group.

While the department had budgeted for 96 officers this year, he went on to say that it is now down to 92 based on retirements.

Sergeant Scott Foster added, “The SOA told this town we’re still open to negotiating.”

In addition to those eight members of the police force, the town expects to see six civilian retirements, based on responses from those expressing strong interest in retirement incentives proposed by the town this year. Similar to what the state was offering last year, town employees who choose to retire this year will receive a cash bonus upon departure of $1,000 for each year of service to the town.

But the town will also be eliminating 14 positions, including two attorneys from the town attorney’s office, and positions in the information technology department, land management department, tax receiver’s office, tax assessor’s office and others. The supervisor would not discuss the names of individuals affected by these proposed cuts.

What’s more, the proposed budget aims to curb health insurance costs. Next year, it would be required that all elected officials and non-union administrative employees contribute to their health plans, while benefits for all members of the zoning board of appeals and the planning board would be eliminated.

In terms of reorganization, the supervisor hopes to combine administrative services — particularly at the police department, which she said now uses “archaic” methods for keeping records.

And at town hall she said she hopes to create a Constituent Response Center, which would be operated by one employee and serve as a hub for all departments.

The response center, to be operated by the town’s current citizen’s advocate, Ryan Horn, would be “a first step to establishing centralized citizen information and response services,” Throne-Holst said. It would effectively eliminate two town hall positions.

“While the town certainly regrets the loss of personnel, many of whom have served in positions of rank, the need for cost reductions, greater efficiency and a new view of how to provide police services, made this decision necessary,” the supervisor announced before the crowd Monday night. “We will also continue to explore, in collective bargaining and otherwise, ways to control our police labor costs.”

With the imminent approach of increased restrictions in the months preceding the state’s mandated two-percent tax levy cap (which will go into effect before next year’s budget), Throne-Holst said she chose to keep costs below that mark, mostly for strategic reasons.

Last year, the supervisor’s tentative budget proposed tax hikes of 2.4 percent, money that would be used to pay-down the town’s deficit and increase reserve funds. It was shot down by the town’s Republican majority in favor of a zero percent increase.

“This year I opted to say, ‘Here’s the zero [percent tax levy increase] in a way that I see as sustainable,” she explained. As she sees it, this way the town board has the flexibility to increase taxes by two percent, if it so chooses.

“If the goal is to get to zero, here’s how to do it with a well thought out, truly sustainable plan,” said Throne-Holst.

Southampton Town Board Passes $78 Million 2010 Budget

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After a contentious budget process in the midst of an election, the Southampton Town Board adopted the final 2010 budget on Friday, November 20. Despite revisions to the fiscal plan, the board is still increasing the tax rate by a full five percent. A homeowner, with a property assessed at $500,000, will pay an additional $33 in town taxes next year, or $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. In 2009, the tax rate was $1.32 for every $1,000 of property value. The overall spending for the town in 2010 remains at around $78.8 million.

Above: Supervisor-elect Anna Throne-Holst and current supervisor Linda Kabot mull over the 2010 budget plan for Southampton Town.

As a last order of major business for supervisor Linda Kabot, she presented a preliminary 2010 budget in late September. The plan was widely debated throughout town hall as it called for 48 lay offs and privatizing the animal shelter; though Kabot said she had found a way to clear the deficits in the highway and police fund.

The board received the most criticism over staffing cuts from union members and community constituents, and have since decided to maintain several positions. Overall, 37 positions were cut, but 11 of these jobs were already vacant, 10 positions were related to the animal shelter and five staff members will likely accept a retirement incentive.

The adopted 2010 budget notably reinstates the transportation and traffic safety director, a community service aide in the senior service department, the assistant director of the youth bureau, a youth counselor, and five sanitation helpers and one scale operator in the Waste Management Division. Others, however, didn’t fair as well in the final round of budget talks. The grant analyst was eliminated, as was the building projects coordinator due to a reshuffling of the department of public works. The supervisor-elect Anna Throne-Holst will realize around $90,000 in savings from eliminating two positions in the supervisor’s officer. One of these positions, that of citizen advocate, however, was simply transferred from the supervisor’s office to the council office in a measure sponsored by Kabot.

A resolution backed by councilwoman Throne-Holst, councilwoman Nancy Graboski and councilwoman Sally Pope might signal the exit of current town attorney Dan Adams in the coming year. The amendment proposed that deputy town attorney Kathleen Murray will “serve as the acting town attorney during a transition period” over the first six months of 2010.

The board was able to save several positions mainly through reducing the monies allotted for deficit reduction in the highway and e-911 fund, increasing estimates for revenues like building permit fees and raising the Cablevision franchise fee from four to five percent, among other measures.

In the 2010 budget, the town has set aside around $2.8 million to pay down past deficits. Comptroller Tamara Wright warned, “The $2.8 million does not address the capital fund IOU. This isn’t really enough money to make a big dent in your deficits … Your financial health includes your cash balance and there isn’t a great deal of room to be off in your revenue estimates.”

The capital fund deficit, estimated at around $6 million, wasn’t directly addressed in the operating budget for next year but the town board has several options in dealing with this sizable debt. Kabot lobbied to pierce the five percent tax rate cap solely to handle these deficits, not new spending; but her resolution was voted down by Throne-Holst, councilman Chris Nuzzi and Pope. The town also has the option of surplusing, or selling off, certain properties next year, another idea proposed by Kabot. Or, the town could pay the capital fund debt through deficit financing, though Kabot argued the state would then have greater oversight into the town’s finances and deficit financing could potentially weaken the town’s credit rating.

“We still don’t have the final numbers. I would leave this aside for the moment and deal with it when we have these numbers,” suggested Throne-Holst.

In other measures, the town tabled a resolution to take out a $275,000 bond for a video arraignment system, decided to fund a total of seven board members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and maintained a hiring freeze.

Kabot Says Capital Budget Deficit About $6 Million

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According to Southampton Town supervisor Linda Kabot and comptroller Tamara Wright, the capital fund deficit from 2003 through 2007 is likely lower than originally estimated by the town’s external auditors FTI consulting. FTI presented their preliminary findings to the board in an executive session on October 13. In the report — a status update on a forensic audit of the fund which was being withheld from the press but was reviewed by The Express — the company estimated that approximately $21 million in direct appropriations were never moved into the capital fund from 2003 through 2007, meaning money that was appropriated for this fund was never put into the fund’s account.

The auditors also noted that nearly $11.25 million in approved town board funding from the general fund, or monies for general town operations, wasn’t transferred into the capital fund which created inaccuracies in the general fund balance sheets. FTI further concluded that only $7.4 million worth of transfers were correctly recorded during this time period. After vetting these numbers with Wright and the board in the last couple of weeks, however, town officials say the actual deficit figures are drastically different than what was first presented by FTI.

According to totals revealed by Kabot at a town board meeting on Tuesday night, the actual amount of failed transfers, or bookkeeping errors, into the capital fund is about $13.2 million from 2003 to 2007. Of these monies approved to be transferred into the fund, only $5.3 million were actually spent during this time,  said Kabot.

Wright corroborated these tallies. She added that the town discovered nearly $8 million that was used to fund a road reconstruction project from 2003 to 2006. The money for the project was slated to be moved from the highway operating fund to the capital fund, however, the transfer was never completed and the project was financed out of the highway fund. This discovery decreased the amount due to the capital fund from $21 million to $13.2 million, said Wright. In addition, FTI said close to $4.6 million in failed direct appropriations were also conducted in 2008, but Wright expects these numbers to significantly decrease as the 2008 audit is fully completed over the week.

Although the board is still awaiting final numbers from 2008, Kabot estimated in a later interview that the total amount the town needs to pay off past capital fund deficits is between $5.75 million to $6 million. Wright said she couldn’t confirm Kabot’s numbers and added that the town should have completed 2008 figures by next week.

These preliminary findings by FTI were presented in executive session, said Kabot, because the board is still deliberating over suing their former auditors AVZ, or Albrecht, Viggiano and Zureck. The town fired the auditing firm in June and later hired Nawrocki Smith, LLP. AVZ worked as the town’s external auditors from 2004 to 2007, when several accounting errors occurred within the town’s capital fund, causing an overstatement of the town’s general fund by around $8 million. When completing their audits for the town, AVZ failed to notice discrepancies in the general fund and the capital fund.

Asked if AVZ committed illegal acts against the town, Kabot said “that is the debate that is under review in executive session. AVZ didn’t do something illegal but they didn’t complete [their work] with due diligence  …They gave the town a clean bill of heath. I believe that is a breach of contract.”

FTI, however, advised the town against pursuing legal action. Kabot added that the board took an informal vote in executive session and she claimed three council members, Chris Nuzzi, Throne-Holst and Pope, voted against suing AVZ.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board appeared divided on how to finance these existing debts in the capital fund. Kabot proposed a five-year pay off plan. In the first year, the town would sell municipal properties that weren’t purchased through community preservation funds. Over the following four years, the taxpayers would foot the bill for the rest of the deficit, which might necessitate piercing the five percent tax rate increase cap, noted Kabot at the meeting.

Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst argued the town shouldn’t rely on selling these properties as the local real estate market is floundering.

“There are still large amounts of money that have not been accounted for …  the bottom line isn’t there,” added Throne-Holst.

During a later interview, councilwoman Sally Pope said it has been difficult to craft a 2010 budget without final numbers, and said the budget might need to be amended at a later date after it is adopted on November 20.

Town Budget Pressure Cuts Into Noyac’s Plans

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In the middle of the worst recession in more than a half century, Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot brought her election-year budget message to Noyac on Tuesday evening, and explained to the community’s civic council that her fiscal plan takes some drastic measures — especially in its effort to make up millions from a deficit resulting from poor bookkeeping.

The result, she said, was that projects, like the long-awaited Noyac community center, have had to be put on hold, as the town simply does not have the money to pay for them.

“You can’t just float a bond for something like that,” Kabot told the members of the civic council at their regularly monthly meeting. “It’s like having a mortgage. It costs you more in your operating budget.”

The budget, claims Kabot, will eliminate deficits in the major funds of the general operating budget. The current budget has a deficit of about $7.5 million she said.

Those savings come at a price, however, and, if adopted, among the casualties will be 48 jobs, programs like the town’s animal shelter and the curtailing of some operations such as limiting the hours for two of the town’s waste transfer stations. Interestingly the supervisor noted Sag Harbor’s transfer station is the busiest and most profitable of the town’s four stations.

“It’s apparently the place where people go to meet and greet each other; not the post office,” she observed.

 The town got into trouble, primarily, during the years 2004-2006, claimed Kabot, when the bookkeeping office failed to move cash from one fund to another. After the board had approved the transfer of money to pay for a particular project, said Kabot, the money was never actually transferred from the general fund to the project’s fund.

“It appeared like we had a big fat fund balance,” said Kabot, “and meanwhile the money had already been spoken for.”

Eventually, the money believed to be in the fund balance was used to reduce the tax burden in subsequent budgets, to keep the tax rate down.

Projects that were supposed to be funded included such things as the Noyac community center and a new guard rail for Noyac Road by Trout Pond, which was actually installed this year.

While she argues the proposed budget will satisfy its deficit, Kabot said she is facing a challenge from the town’s police department, which is asking for a 4.5 percent raise. At present, she said, about 90 percent of the town’s police force is compensated at $185,000 a year, and after four years an officer is earning over $100,000. About one-third of the force is retirement eligible with full benefits. Kabot said her offer of a 2 percent raise was rebuffed by the town’s PBA.

“How do you stop this,” asked a man in the audience.

“I need people to stand up for the taxpayer,” replied Kabot.

Kabot said all is not grim for those in Noyac.

“The commitment is there for Noyac,” she said, “but we might have to pull back on some of the aesthetics you might have enjoyed.

In particular, she said the town will go ahead with a traffic calming project for Noyac Road in front of The Whalenbone and Cromer’s Market. A raised median had originally been proposed, but the project ran into a lot of criticism from the neighboring business owners who felt a structure would restrict some vehicles from pulling into the parking lot.

Instead, it will be done with a painted median, pulling the roadway further away from the parking area, and result in using some of the land on the south side of the road across from the parking lot. While she had hoped to have the work done this fall, it will have to wait to the spring.

“It’s work that has to be done. It’s like the wild west there,” she said.

But aside from the aforementioned guard rail (which cost $119,000), there was little the town was set to do for Noyac. Kabot said they were hiring a consultant at about to plan the clearing and re-vegetation of the area around the waterfall by Trout Pond, and said a project to install drainage at Bittersweet Lane was et to go this week until they found out it was a private road not maintained by the town. They are currently working with counsel to secure an easement to do the work, but in the meantime that money was diverted to do drainage at Otter Pond in Sag Harbor.

Kabot said the town will install four more speed monitors along Noyac Road in an effort to slow traffic.

“You’ll increase the monitors, but how will you enforce it,” asked council member Dorothy Frankel.

“I’m going to send a memo to the police and say people here need protection,” said Kabot. “This is a dangerous road.”

Southampton Supervisor Faces DWI Charges

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Despite being arrested in the early morning hours of Labor Day, Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot was back to business at a Tuesday board meeting in town hall. A News Channel 12 cameraman was noticably standing on the sidelines in the hopes of getting an on-air qoute from Kabot, who was charged with driving while intoxicated on Monday. However, Kabot didn’t break from her formal exterior and not a word was spoken by members of the public nor the town board about the incident.
In a statement released earlier in the week, Kabot said: “I am addressing this personal matter with my attorney through the appropriate legal channels. Please respect my privacy. Let the process run its course. I will not only have to vigorously defend against these charges in court, but also now must continue to defend my character and credibility as a public official.”
According to reports from Westhampton Beach Village Police, Kabot, 41, was seen crossing the double yellow line prior to making a left hand turn onto Main Street in Westhampton in her 2006 Gray Toyota on Monday, September 7, at around 12:25 a.m. Upon an interview, Kabot’s eyes were allegedly red and glassy and police claim her breath smelled strongly of an alcoholic beverage. Police say Kabot failed all standard field sobriety tests, refused to sumbit to a pre-screen breath test and also refused an intoxilyzer test to determine her blood alcohol content.
John Penrose, 38, of Westhampton was arrested at the same location at around 12:29 a.m. for disorderly conduct, a violation, for interfering in a DWI investigation. Detective Edwin Hamor, however, couldn’t substantiate if Penrose was directly interfering with Kabot’s arrest.
Kabot was transferred to the Quogue Village Police Department because the Westhampton Beach Village Police Department doesn’t have holding cells. That morning, on Monday, Kabot was escorted to her arraignment at the Westhampton Beach Village Justice Court at around 9:10 a.m. Judge Robert Kelly, Jr., presided over the proceedings. During the arraignment, Kabot’s license was suspended but she entered a plea of not guilty to the DWI charges. Kabot is expected to appear next in court on Wednesday, September 30, at 1 p.m.
Kabot’s lawyer, James McManmon of Riverhead, declined to answer questions and said, “The matter is still under investigation and I am not going to make any statements to the press. That is my policy in this matter.”
Kabot is a born and bred Southampton Town resident, who graduated from Westhampton Beach Schools. After attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges, she returned home to the East End to try her hand in public service, a field she has worked in for the last 13 years. Kabot first served as the executive assistant to former town supervisor Vincent Cannuscio for six years before being elected to the town board. Kabot was a town councilwoman for the following six years.
In 2007, she hit the campaign trail going toe to toe with former town supervisor Patrick “Skip” Heaney, but by September of that year Kabot secured the Republican Party nomination for supervisor and by November she had won the four-way race. Kabot was sworn into office in January of 2008, becoming the first Republican female supervisor in Southampton Town history and was the first woman to nab the position in over two decades.
Kabot boasts an illustrious resume, but the last year of her career has been a bumpy ride for the supervisor. Ealier in 2009, the town discovered several years worth of substantial accounting errors and faced serious budgetary issues as a result of the recession. This November, Kabot is seeking re-election to her post. She failed to receive backing from the Integrity Party and the Southampton Town Conservative Committee, but is on the Republican line. She and is being challenged by current councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst.

Rededicating the Beebe Windmill

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A rededication ceremony was held at the Beebe Windmill on Ocean Rd. in Bridgehampton this past weekend to mark the completion of major repairs made to the historic structure. The Town of Southampton allocated funds to ensure the preservation of the landmark, and work that included recreating the sails, replacing the rotted main beams, reconstructing the fantail, and replacing exterior shingles began in 2007. Noted restoration expert Robert Hefner monitored the project and Richard Ward Baxter, a highly skilled artisan with experience in historic renovations, and his crew completed the work. 

The windmill was built in 1820 by Samuel Schellinger in Sag Harbor for Captain Lester Beebe, a retired whaling captain and shipbuilder. It was sold and relocated several times until 1914 when it was acquired by John E. Berwind and moved to his estate in Bridgehampton. His widow bequeathed the windmill to the Town of Southampton in memory of her husband, and it continues to stand on the Berwind Memorial Green on Ocean Road. The building has become a local landmark, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.  

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“This windmill is part of our roots and history on the East End and it is important that this structure be preserved for future generations to enjoy,” said Councilman Chris Nuzzi as he addressed town officials, representatives from the Bridgehampton Historical Society, Bridgehampton Village Improvement Society, and others who came out for the rededication ceremony. Superintendent of Parks, Allyn Jackson added, “the project took quite some time to complete, but I am very pleased with the results.”