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Mar 3, 2009 6:02 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Group may recommend restructuring, sale of East Hampton's facilities

Mar 3, 2009 6:02 PM

Ideas ranging from selling the Poxabogue Golf Center and the town waste transfer station on Springs-Fireplace Road to a restructuring of the departments at Town Hall are likely to top the agenda of an ad hoc committee that is looking into the town’s finances.

The group, convened by former Town Board member Debra Foster, plans to present its recommendations to candidates for the Town Board by mid-March. Its second roundtable discussion, titled “Bringing East Hampton Town Finances into the 21st Century,” was held on Friday, at the East Hampton Village Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street.

Highlights of the evening included a presentation by Jennifer Mulligan on a potential restructuring of the town’s operations, in which the Town Board and supervisor would oversee a town manager, who would in turn oversee the departments within the town.

Barbara Jordan, who was charged with determining the potential cost of a town manager, said that the average salary for such a position would be about $93,000, though other members of the panel thought that town managers might cost the town as much as $200,000 per year.

Bonnie Krupinski also gave a presentation on a potential sale of the transfer station to a private carting company. She said she believed Winters Brothers Waste Systems Inc. might be interested in bidding. The private garbage carter operates a small facility across the street from the current transfer station and had once submitted a plan to the town to operate its own transfer station. Ms. Krupinski said she was due to meet with Winters Brothers this week to discuss the idea further. She said that, currently, the town is in the red for as much as $4 million per year at the transfer station. She also suggested that the town take steps toward selling or ceasing operation of its aging sewage treatment plant.

Scott Rubenstein, who owns the East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club, did a survey of the recreational facilities in the town, and his suggestions were drastic.

He recommended that the town look into selling the Poxabogue Golf Center, which stands on the town line between Southampton and East Hampton and is managed by both towns. Though he said that the facility is a burden to the town, the golf course’s managers have said that the facility is profitable and they are planning to use the profits to improve the golf course in the hopes of bringing in more revenue.

Mr. Rubenstein also suggested that the town look into ceasing its partnership with the YMCA, which runs the town’s Rec Center on Gingerbread Lane. He said that the town is currently paying $200,000 per year in order for the facility to be an official YMCA. He also suggested that for-profit groups that use the indoor hockey rink on Abrahams Path pay maintenance fees to the town.

“All three facilities are costing the town big bucks,” said Ms. Foster. “The bottom line is the town is sending money to the facilities and is getting nothing back. ... We are bleeding.”

Ms. Mulligan also suggested that the town do an audit of its $225,000 in telephone expenses and engage in more competitive bidding. She also said that the town should re-examine its vehicle use policies and save some of the $80,000 it spends on postage by switching over to electronic communications.

Members of the committee also suggested that the town re-issue some of its bonds, now that interest rates are low, an act that the Town Board had already set in motion two weeks ago and that the town hire a financial consultant to make sure that its audits are completed on time.

The Town Board agreed two weeks ago to hire Corporate Accounting Solutions to work on the 2008 audit. The town’s 2007 audit, which was due last fall, is expected to be complete within weeks.

The group also suggested that the town prepare monthly financial reports, at the suggestion of Charlene Kagel, who is Brookhaven Town’s commissioner of finance. “Waiting until the end of the year is not an option,” she said.

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It's not that a town manager is a bad idea - it's who you plan on putting there.
For example, Larry Cantwell has been phenomenal as the Village Administrator in East Hampton. Richard Blowes in Southampton Town - not so much. Week after week we read about his mis-management and out-of- control spending with no oversight. My gut instinct tells me Deb Foster would place herself as Town Manager even though she is not worthy of re-election for any position given her past performance.
By pupdaddy (12), North Sea on Mar 4, 09 12:52 PM
Scott Rubenstein is ignorant about the EH Rec Center YMCA-EH Town operational and funding stucture. And to say the Town is getting nothing back when thousands of children, parents, young adults, adults and seniors in our community use and pay for the center, is DUMB. A word to the committee: Get the facts from the right people. A word to the press: write a balanced story. . . regular coverage only of the committee and it's wacky opinions is not right.
By prohamptons (3), East Hampton11937 on Mar 4, 09 5:19 PM
Yes the Town needs to get its house in order, but Scotts comment is a cheap shot at the YMCA. As the Chairman of the Board, I am biased but under the Y's committed and careful management, the membership has grown to 6,000 members. We work with everyone from the youngest swimmer to the members of Silver Sneakers. Town life guard training works in concert with the Y. We have a tremendous swimteam program both as a Y and through the High School. Schools send kids to Y programs as part of drown proofing ...more
By cpilato (3), East Hampton on Mar 4, 09 5:57 PM
Deb Foster is in this for 1 reason and 1 reason only. She had her chance & blew it. This Bonnie chic: Isn't she the one who built her multi million dollar golf course right next to a dump and sewer plant THEN complained about the smell?? Sounds like my cousin who built her house 1/4 mile from the airport and now is complaining about the noise & wants the airport closed.
By disappointed (96), wainscott on Mar 5, 09 1:49 PM
winters brothers are across the street from the transfer station bonnie owns the land and rents it to winter brothers i see all to clear now.sell a deal to the town board and pile up the money like trash.
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Mar 7, 09 6:51 PM