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Jul 27, 2010 4:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Committee recommends town manager for East Hampton

Jul 27, 2010 4:27 PM

East Hampton Town should have a town manager, a citizens advisory committee reported on Monday as it delivered its final report on the upcoming 2011 budget.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley and Councilman Dominick Stanzione, along with a few members of the public, attended the meeting at Town Hall.

The town manager should “fully coordinate and monitor the operation of all town departments to ensure the efficient and consistent rendering of quality municipal services to the community,” said Robert Kauffman, the chairman of the East Hampton Town Budget and Finance Committee, a nine-member volunteer group made up of citizens with backgrounds in finance and business.

“This person should have prior experience as a town manager with knowledge about municipal operations and resources, and department tasks and functions,” the report stated.

It’s really a Town Board call whether to hire a town manager, Len Bernard, the town’s budget officer, said on Tuesday. “The position of town manager has worked in some places and not in others, depending on how they structure the job. But it’s my opinion that if the town supervisor is an active, hands-on manager as Bill is, you don’t really need a town manager.”

The job of East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell is similar to that of a town manager, according to Mr. Bernard. He said Mr. Cantwell’s position was needed because the village mayor’s job is only part-time. “You can’t really compare the village with the town, anyway,” he said.

Mr. Bernard also said that the board will probably invite the leaders of the budget advisory committee to a Town Board work session and go through the 27 recommendations contained in the report with them.

“The Town Board is going to look at everything and see what’s practical at this time. Some of the recommendations will likely be adopted,” he said.

The town manager should serve at the pleasure of the board, and “this position should be filled by a contractually hired, non-political, professional manager to allow for continuity in function despite the nature of politically changing town boards,” the report said.

“The big word in this recommendation is continuity,” said Joseph Gaviola, vice-chairman of the budget committee. It’s important that the town’s citizens have a sense of consistent, steady management, he said.

The focus of many of the committee’s recommendations was on that, Mr. Stanzione said after the meeting adjourned. “Their idea that we bring professional management techniques to the town was the most important part of the report,” he said.

The committee has met publicly seven times and interviewed town department heads in an effort to find out their financial needs and concerns, said Mr. Kauffman.

Along with hiring a town manager, the group also recommended the town immediately implement compatible computer and internet technology programs and systems to be used by all departments. The computer systems should be used to better track, control and evaluate operating revenues, expenses, task productivity, performance of municipal services and make it easy for the public to access it.

“It’s important that the town involve staff in improving computer services,” said Michael Diesenhaus, who serves as a one-member IT subcommittee for the group.

The budget advisory committee also recommended that the town “forcefully” renegotiate municipal worker union contracts to provide for more flexible work rules and “give backs” in medical, retirement and other benefits. For example, the report suggests that workers make more substantial contributions to health plans, eliminate redundant family worker medical plans and that sick days and personal days be combined into annual flex days with no carryover.

For future Community Preservation Fund purchases, an oversight committee should be formed, the report said. The committee would audit CPF budgeting costs and report all CPF activity to the board on a monthly basis. It would have no role in CPF purchases or the amount paid for them.

Also, when it comes to considering CPF purchases, the committee recommended that the town should factor in what effect the purchase would have on land availability for new construction and the potential loss of construction jobs, potential loss of affordable housing land and reduction in the tax base. The committee also recommended that the town should create a CPF endowment funded with a portion of existing CPF funds to cover stewardship expenses on properties purchased with the CPF.

The report also said a town manager or private consultants should “evaluate and quantify municipal tasks and functions to develop [requests for proposal] criteria to be bid on by both department and private vendors for board costs/revenue comparisons and to determine whether such work can be better performed by municipal personnel or outside contractors.”

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Why do you suppose we voted for a supervisor?

To Manage The Town - - IDIOTS
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on Jul 30, 10 9:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
When will we learn that outsourcing to private contractors doesn't work and costs more. Just look at the privitazation of federal agencies, state agenices, defense, our prisons, hospitals, and last but not least, look at the mess private contractors make of our wars!!! Just ask people to do their jobs or fire them and hire competent people who will do the job!
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Aug 2, 10 2:24 PM
WHATS THAT SOUND????? OH IT'S -----DO YOUR JOB!!!!! THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES ....WE HIRED YOU TO OFFICE TO DO YOUR JOB!!!! pride of bonac ....well stated.
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 6, 10 5:11 AM