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Mar 9, 2010 3:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Leaf pickup may be eliminated in East Hampton Town due to budget crisis

Mar 9, 2010 3:52 PM

East Hampton Town is considering suspending its leaf pickup program next winter in an attempt to cut costs due to the municipality’s deepening deficit.

Newly elected Town Board members are pushing hard for the plan, which they say could save the town between $300,000 and $600,000, depending on how labor costs are calculated, but the two incumbents, Julia Prince and Pete Hammerle, have expressed serious reservations about the public’s willingness to go along with the plan. A presentation on the leaf pickup program is scheduled for a board work session on Tuesday, March 16, at 10 a.m. at Town Hall.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley brought up the idea at a work session on Saturday, March 2.

“We want to cut luxury items. It costs the town a ton of money,” she said of the program, adding that the town hires 40 part-time workers to collect the leaves each fall, while full-time Highway Department workers spend the autumn months picking up leaves rather than repairing roads.

“I don’t think we can afford to live at this budget level much longer,” said Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. “I think it’s one of the minimal sacrifices we have to accept. I am stubbornly in support of this.”

Mr. Wilkinson added that he believes the cost savings might be higher than the minimum, particularly if some Highway Department workers take advantage of his administration’s early retirement incentive and their positions are eliminated.

“This idea has been around for a few years. I think you’ll hear from the public feedback that this is something people are willing to pay for,” said Councilman Hammerle.

Ms. Prince said that she was uncomfortable with not knowing how much money the town would save.

“Even if it’s $300,000, it’s still not worth it,” said Ms. Quigley of the program.

“We need to be accurate with the taxpayers when we talk about what we’re achieving when we take services away,” said Councilman Dominick Stanzione.

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Leaf pickup is a luxury? In what Town on Long Island is that the case? East Hampton residents barely get any servicesfrom the Town. All this is going to achieve is a large number of pissed off residents, while the Town still wallows in debt with tens of unnecessary employees and other issues that should be addressed first. The Board should focus less on obfuscating and try to deal with the real issues at hand. You are not fooling anyone.
By ehboardwatcher2010 (21), sag harbor on Mar 10, 10 8:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
What a joke, one of the richest regions of the country and it has come to this?
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Mar 10, 10 10:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
What a joke. Thanks again to the previous administration for bankrupting a wealthy town.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Mar 10, 10 2:49 PM
Leaf pickup has been a service provided for more then 30 years. Back in the day even Suffolk Co. picked up on their highways in E.H. but when it became too expensive they refused to do it. The people in town refused to accept that excuse so demanded the town do it no matter what the cost. And the cost is enormous. Wake up. You bankrupted yourselves. Continue to be sellfish, demanding,and pissed and blame others for your stupidity and it will get worse.
By facts man (148), east hampton on Mar 13, 10 9:03 AM