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Oct 21, 2009 1:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board candidates say little about proposed 2010 budget

Oct 21, 2009 1:27 PM

As Southampton Town officials consider a $78.8 million proposed budget for next year that includes some of the largest cuts to staff and services seen in town government in recent years, the candidates for this year’s Town Board race remained mostly mum on the subject this week.

Only incumbent Councilman Christopher Nuzzi, a Republican, voiced concerns about proposals in the budget to cut staff and raise taxes beyond the 5-percent cap allowed by town law next year. Incumbent Councilwoman Sally Pope and first-time candidate Bridget Fleming, both Democrats, declined to voice opinions on spending proposals in the budget. Republican candidate James Malone of Hampton Bays did not return calls for comment.

Declining to comment on specifics in the budget, Ms. Pope and Ms. Fleming said it was too early in the budget process to criticize certain aspects of the proposed spending plan, which was released by Supervisor Linda Kabot on September 30. The Town Board is expected to adopt a final budget on November 20.

“There is a lot of work to do, and it is early to sit and be critical,” Ms. Pope said. “I don’t think we need to do it in the press at this point.”

Ms. Fleming, a lawyer from Sag Harbor, said she read the budget message and examined various department spending plans, but has yet to delve into the budget in detail. “I read the message, but I haven’t had time to go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb,” she said.

“Specific amendments to the budget I don’t think would be wise for me to offer, because I have not spoken to department heads or union representatives as far as what concessions could be made,” she continued.

However, both Ms. Pope and Ms. Fleming did criticize how the budget was arrived at. Ms. Pope argued that Ms. Kabot, a Republican seeking reelection this year, should have consulted with department heads before proposing cuts in 2010. “The supervisor did her budget and she never went back to the department heads about what she was proposing,” Ms. Pope said. “She basically shut her door and made her decision.”

Ms. Fleming lambasted officials for not using “zero-based budgeting” techniques to find unnecessary spending. “My understanding is that has not been undertaken,” Ms. Fleming said. “We need zero-based budgeting.”

Mr. Nuzzi voiced skepticism about efforts to privatize a waste transfer facility in North Sea in order to save the town money. “I don’t believe we should privatize waste management,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “I don’t see that being a viable idea.”

He added, “I do see the possibility of privatizing the animal shelter and maybe even our marinas.”

The councilman also criticized cuts to town staff that he said would reduce services to Southampton Town residents. “Cutting some of the lower-level positions that are essential to maintain the level of service related to the things we’re responsible for in local government—to the maintenance of our parks and beaches to the operation of our transfer station—is not the way to plug the budget gap,” Mr. Nuzzi said.

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Pap.

Obviously, the Town candidate are going have to be pinned to a wall before they will chance uttering an opinion that might offend someone who might vote for them. Tomorrow, Oct. 22, at 7:00 p.m. at Rodgers Memorial Library in Southampton they will face questions from professional journalists as well as the public. We will be voting on these folks in less than two weeks. If they feel that it is, "too soon", to comment on specifics in the budget, that's a shame. THIS is the time ...more
By highhatsize (3739), East Quogue on Oct 21, 09 12:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
Damned if you do and damned if you don't. If Sally Pope and Bridget Fleming had criticized specific parts of the budget when it was announced, they would have been accused (once again) of Kabot-bashing without being ready to let the process work by sitting down with the Supervisor to hammer out the details of the budget. When they instead express a willingness to do just that, they are charged with being afraid to take a stand.

Linda Kabot has uttered a lot of "pap", as highhatsize ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Oct 21, 09 11:31 PM
To Turkey Bridge:

When Town departments are being closed and Town employees are being fired, the existence of a $3.6M shimmering sea of fat in the budget is too important to be ignored. The most important question that candidates have to answer this year is whether or not they will tap this pool of money. I see no reason why their responses would violate confidentiality but, even were that true, a candidate's position on this question is too important for it to go unanswered.

So ...more
By highhatsize (3739), East Quogue on Oct 22, 09 4:30 AM
Turkey Bridge: Sally and Bridget have been critiicizing the budget at every debate, in the press, and in the democratic mailings (which by the way only play the blame game, something the dems have been critical over Kabot for).

It seems to me their only platform is to blame and criticize. They have not offered any ideas or plans. They only say its time to change. Sally has not offered any plans to reduce the deficit or make budget cuts. She has done practically nothing in office. That also ...more
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Oct 22, 09 8:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
Zero based budgeting was a concept I first heard of in the 1970's - as I re-call during the New York City fiscal crisi. While it sounds appealing the idea never really caught on in the public sector. As I recall a few states tried it only to discover department budget preparers would try to add spending to programs, claiming they were under financed to start.
While the private sector has a bottom line (profit/loss) as an indicator of performance, the public sector, which is totally a service ...more
By North of Highway (279), Westhampton Beach on Oct 22, 09 4:32 PM
"Republican candidate James Malone of Hampton Bays did not return calls for comment." That's direct from the above story. He was probably too busy doing his job for the County. Mr. Malone's website calls him the "Senior Deputy Clerk and Chief Fiscal Director", saying he "manages over 130 government employees and hundreds of million dollars per year."

Sounds like a big job. Must take a lot of time. It's a government job, too, which means Malone's not his own boss and has to keep 9:00 ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Oct 23, 09 1:05 PM
This is what Pope and Fleming had to say about the budget:
“There is a lot of work to do, and it is early to sit and be critical,” Ms. Pope said. “I don’t think we need to do it in the press at this point.”
Is she kidding that all she does it criticize, what kind of response is that from a sitting councilwoman.

Ms. Fleming, a lawyer from Sag Harbor, said she read the budget message and examined various department spending plans, but has yet to delve into the budget in detail. “I ...more
By golfbuddy (180), hampton bays on Oct 25, 09 9:58 PM
Turkey Bridge
Someone already answered your question in another blog.

Jim Malone intends to resign his position with the County when he wins the council seat.

Also, are you trying to say that both Anna and Sally work full-time? Give me a break, Anna is too busy getting endorsement and trying to figure out how to make some cuts in the budget and Sally still trying to read the budget.
By golfbuddy (180), hampton bays on Oct 25, 09 10:13 PM
You can always count on golfbuddy to spew some right-wing nonsense.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Oct 27, 09 2:57 PM
Would someone please remind me how Sally got elected the first time. She really is clueless.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Oct 27, 09 5:49 PM
EastEnd68, you must be one of the people who gets their talking points from the head office, along with ridiculous and hbguy, because you all use "clueless" to refer to Sally Pope. I'm getting tired of re-stating it all the time, but I'll do it once more, just for you: Sally Pope, in nine short months on the Town Board, has initiated a State audit of the Town's disastrous (Republican) finances, has instituted monthly budget reports (which should have been there all along) to prevent repetition ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Oct 28, 09 12:26 PM
Read today's Independent-they got it right. Sally must go. Their picks are ATH, NUzzi, and Fleming. I agree.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Oct 28, 09 3:41 PM
Chris Nuzzi's Sign Dogs are back again, pulling out opposition signs and throwing them in the woods. Even if he didn't start it, Chris Nuzzi can make it stop, and he needs to do that, or we'll all think he's OK with this infantile cheating.
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Oct 29, 09 3:27 PM