Government Briefs 08.25.11

East Hampton Town

Bonding Approved
     Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that will allow East Hampton Town to borrow money, by issuing bonds repayable over 10 years, to fund an employee separation program, offering town workers an incentive to step down.
    Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has said implementing the program is part of a package of cost-saving initiatives designed to return the town to sound financial status. He noted that it could help avoid layoffs.
    State approval was not needed to begin the separation program, but only to issue bonds. Zachary Cohen, the Democratic candidate for town supervisor and a former member of the town’s budget and finance advisory committee, has taken issue with the way the program is to be funded, arguing that the town could include the cost of separation incentives in its budget, avoiding additional debt and interest costs.
    When state lawmakers failed last year to vote on the bonding legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth J. LaValle, Mr. Wilkinson said the separation incentive program could not go forward. Mr. Thiele said yesterday that he supported the legislation as a home rule issue, giving the town a choice of how to proceed. Similar legislation has been adopted for Nassau County in the past.
    The State Legislature previously gave East Hampton Town the authority to issue up to $30 million in bonds to raise money to cover a $27 million deficit. 

Turbine Support
    A town board hearing last Thursday on a proposal to erect a wind turbine at the Iacono farm on Long Lane drew comments from only one speaker — Patrick Schutte, a member of the planning board. Mr. Schutte supported the idea, saying wind power “fits in with the character of our community.” Traditional power plants on Long Island, he said, are “antiquated,” and not energy-efficient, while wind power represents a better option for the environment.    
     The Iacono proposal is for the second wind turbine on a Long Lane farm. The town board issued a permit for the turbine now operating on the Mahoney farm, though a number of neighbors expressed concerns about noise and other disruptions. The board has not received complaints since the turbine went up.
    Although the town code requires a permit from the town board for a wind energy system, both Long Lane town permits may actually be unnecessary, as the state Agriculture and Markets Law governing what farmers may do allows wind energy systems on farms.
CfAR Asks for Action
    Citizens for Access Rights, a group known as CfAR, which was formed in response to a lawsuit by Napeague homeowners against the town and town trustees seeking to stop beach driving along two Atlantic-front stretches, delivered a resolution to the town board last Thursday night, which it asked board members to adopt.
    The resolution pledges the town board to fully support the town trustees in defending the lawsuit and to authorize spending on the legal expenses. It also outlines the town board’s commitment to take any steps necessary to maintain public ownership of the beach, including purchase by eminent domain, and to use all legal means to support continued vehicular and non-vehicular access.
    A similar resolution was submitted by CfAR to the board in April, but not acted on. Tim Taylor, a spokesman for the group, said he hoped that the board would enact the most recent resolution at its meeting next Thursday. CfAR members, he said, would attend that meeting en masse.
    “This board has had our previous resolution for the past four months and we feel that this has been a more than adequate time for the board to act on the resolution,” he said. “Any attempt to delay or table this resolution will be considered by CfAR and its members as a no vote on the resolution.”

Tennis Fee
    Tennis players who use the town-owned courts on West Lake Drive in Montauk, which are being operated by the Village Tennis Company, will see their costs rise.
    Last Thursday, the town board approved a modification of its license agreement with the company, allowing the fee to be increased from $16 per court per hour to $22 per hour.

Bids on Solar
    East Hampton Town is seeking bids on the design and installation of a solar energy system to be installed at the town police office on South Embassy Drive in Montauk. The project will be financed by money left over from a green energy grant.
    The town purchasing agent will accept bids until 3 p.m. on Sept. 8. Specifications are available at the Purchasing Department office at Town Hall.