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Sep 29, 2009 6:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton GOP announces financial action plan

Sep 29, 2009 6:52 PM

A new financial action plan for East Hampton unveiled by the Republican slate of candidates for Town Board estimates that the town’s total deficit will be as high as $28 million when all of the town’s tangled accounts are put in order, but the plan also calls for cost reductions in 2010 and no tax increase in 2011.

The candidates, who have been working with New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. on the proposal said that they hope the town can receive an additional $13 million in deficit financing from the state to allow it to start fresh.

The GOP has also announced a goal to reduce the town’s budget to $60 million from its current level of $67.5 million, although it did not provide a deadline for doing so.

The GOP’s plan estimates that the town will have an operating deficit of $7 million in 2009, on top of deficits totalling $15 million for the prior two years. It further estimates that undisclosed debt, including interfund transfers between the town’s highway, Community Preservation Fund, airport, refuse and capital accounts, in addition to the cost of unfunded pension liabilities, could be as high as $6 million.

“It recognizes the true deficit and the other important part is that it avoids a one-time tax increase,” said town supervisor candidate Bill Wilkinson, who distributed copies of his team’s plan to current Town Board members last Friday afternoon.

The plan includes reducing the hours of operation of town services, reducing work weeks, entering into shared service agreements, a comprehensive asset liquidation plan and a voluntary reduction in work force. It also calls for the creation of a town manager position and an ombudsman to work to acquire funding from new sources.

Members of the Republican slate all come to politics from the private sector. Mr. Wilkinson is a former vice president for human resources at the Walt Disney Corporation, and Town Board candidates Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley are a financial advisor and an attorney, respectively.

“The typical politician would sit on their hands and wait, but I would be more than happy to have the Town Board grab this blueprint and run with it,” he said.

Mr. Wilkinson added that he’s heard “not a word” from current Town Board members about the plan.

The State Legislature last year allowed East Hampton to borrow $15 million in deficit financing, and Mr. Thiele said this week that he doubted either the legislature or the New York State Comptroller’s office would be willing to fund any more deficit financing without a solid financial plan. The candidates hope that this plan will enable them to do just that.

“I told Dominick and Bill that for the State Legislature to increase that amount, they would have to demonstrate certain things,” said Mr. Thiele on Tuesday. “They would need to get control over spending and would need a reorganization plan before they would get any action.”

Mr. Thiele added that he had no plans as of yet to endorse any East Hampton candidates and that he would have offered the same assistance to Democratic supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn if Mr. Zwirn asked for his help.

“Assemblyman Thiele has been an incredible source of guidance and a mentor to us on this. He’s doing what he can to have the assembly recognize the financial situation we are in,” said Mr. Wilkinson.

Mr. Zwirn and Mr. Thiele in June both held a press conference outlining their mutual opposition to a $50 surcharge on traffic tickets, which would be given to the Suffolk County Police even though they do not patrol East Hampton’s roads.

Mr. Thiele said Tuesday that the traffic ticket surcharge bill is still being held up by the State Legislature.

Mr. Zwirn unveiled his own 12-point budget plan early this summer, which includes many proposals that are similar to those in the GOP plan, including some staff reductions, cutting back some services and entering into sharing agreements for others and freezing discretionary spending. Both plans call for a hiring freeze, and the GOP plan calls for the elimination of vacant positions.

Mr. Zwirn has said repeatedly at recent campaign events that he is the only candidate who has a financial plan, though Mr. Wilkinson said this week that his team has been “in the trenches calling for reform since 2007.”

Mr. Wilkinson, in his unsuccessful bid that year for supervisor, pointed out many of the town’s financial problems, which were at the time dismissed by many as campaign rhetoric, but which later were found to be true.

Both he and Mr. Stanzione have actively lobbied the Town Board to create a budget advisory committee, to videotape that committee’s meetings, and to take its suggestions to heart.

“We commit to spending less than the budget we inherit in 2010 and reducing property taxes in 2011. We will balance the budget through reduced spending, not raising revenues. Much of the reduced spending will come from significant debt reduction,” said Mr. Wilkinson.

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It's gratifying to witness a team of dedicated candidates willing to apply sound financial management and see it as a measure of good government. Mr. Thiele's remark that he would have provided the same assistance to Mr. Zwirn is revealing in that Mr. Zwirn was evidently not interested in obtaining Mr. T.'s cost-cutting advice.
Richard Blumenthal
By RichardBlumenthal (24), Westhampton Beach on Sep 29, 09 5:11 PM

You're gratified? What a bunch of lofty hot air. If you reread yr comment it should make you shudder with the pompous & bereft of any meaning. Unless yr clever last phrase means you want to ridicule Fred Thiele because he is not the automation apparatchik East End Repubs like. --mo
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Oct 1, 09 3:23 AM
if these guys dont all win I will be shocked. The current administration needs to be shown the door
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Sep 29, 09 9:59 PM

Zwirn has already shown him the door, prepare for more of yr shock treatment, razza
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Oct 1, 09 3:26 AM
Getting a handle on the real deficit amount before laying out a plan of action is critical. Zwirn's plan was cookie cutter stuff copied from other towns and provided no perspective. Wilkinson has put his plan within the situation East Hampton finds itself. Wilkinson and his running mates have Identified the true deficit through thoughtful analysis and then has tackled the problem with a multi year business plan with goals.
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Sep 30, 09 8:04 PM

what blathering pretentiousness, "within the situation East Hampton finds itself..."
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Oct 1, 09 3:30 AM
very well said truthinbonac. What I dont understand completely is how it is possible to not hire for vacant positions. I agree with a hiring freeze but it has to be with some exceptions. You cant keep losing people and not replacing them. As with highway dept they are already down 20% of their workforce, how do you expect them to do the job the way it needs to be done. You look at the sanitation department they lost a handful of people and nobody has been replaced. you cant expect the home exchange ...more
By letskeepitreal (15), sagharbor on Sep 30, 09 9:39 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Oct 1, 09 3:39 AM

Phu..leeze Louise. How many guys would you hire to stand guard over the home recycle bay? It's had no employee standing there for several years. It only takes one guy in his loader to clear it out on Sunday closing. Garypie is out of his league as supervisor of the dump.
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Oct 1, 09 3:39 AM
Mo you are out of touch with the town. Zwirn will lose and lose badly.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 1, 09 1:36 PM
mo...another Zwirn drinking buddy...if you don't define the problen and the extent of the problem, any solution developed will come up short. Rather than issue a cookie cutter "financial plan" like Zwirn did which was copied out of a text book, the Wilkinson team laid out and defined the problen in East Hampton, they put an accurate measure on it ($28 million deficit), and came up with a plan to solve East Hampton's mess, not some generic town in the pages of a college text book. That's what "within ...more
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Oct 3, 09 11:58 AM
Heard local PBA has endorsed Wilkinson. Guess they know Zwirn is a McGintee clone, because they certainly know McGintee. Is it true, did Wilkinson get the local endorsement?
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Oct 3, 09 12:00 PM
I don't understand why people are not focusing on the plan itself - and why the proposal is not published for people to see? Was it not submitted to this paper?! If so - where is it?! If not - why not? I have been reading that a copy was given to Town Board members - and no one has anything to say about it?!? Especially The Press? WHAT IS UP WITH THIS? If you don't have a copy I recognize that you can't print it - but if you DO - please share. Inquiring minds would like to read something ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Oct 5, 09 11:44 PM
Oops - just read that the proposed budget is almost 72 million - not 69 something - but what's another 3 or 4 million?!? I can see that the latest and greatest budget didn't come out until after this article is printed -- but either Wilkinson's plan is available publicly or it isn't - I haven't seen it myself although i guess i could FOIL it . . . will wait for you to. Thanks.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Oct 5, 09 11:49 PM
The plan was endorsed by Newsday today, which complimented it in their endorsement of Mr. Wilkinson.
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 25, 09 10:45 AM