Tweaks as Budget Vote Nears

    A vote is expected this evening on East Hampton Town’s budget for 2013, after a few last-minute changes were approved by a majority of the town board on Tuesday.
    As originally proposed, the budget totaled slightly more than $69 million  and would result in tax rates of $27.86 per $100 of assessed value to most town properties, a 4.6-percent increase, or a rate of $10.93 per $100 of assessed value for properties in the incorporated villages of East Hampton and Sag Harbor, a decrease of 1.7 percent.
    After a brief discussion at a work session, three members of the board voted to add $27,000 to the budget so that an additional ordinance enforcement officer could be added in the summer season. Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said that numerous constituents have been asking for increased code enforcement, based on “quality of life” issues that arise in the summer.
    “I’m totally against it,” Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said. Citing his previous position in the human resources department of Disney, he said that people believe, erroneously, “that more begets more, and it doesn’t. There’s no correlation between more code enforcement and increased funds.”  Under his administration, he said, the budget has decreased, and more has been done with less.
    Councilwoman Theresa Quigley also disagreed and discussed a plan to overhaul the town code, using a committee that would include a local lawyer. “I’ve already reached out to Stephen Grossman to put together a committee to look at the code,” she said. “I prefer going down that road.”
    Councilman Dominick Stanzione voted with Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc, and the addition to the budget was approved.
    Also approved by a three-to-two vote along the same lines was an increase to the grant awarded to Project MOST, an after-school program for children at the Springs School and the John M. Marshall Elementary School, at Councilman Stanzione’s request. 
    The entire board agreed to the addition of $40,000 for a deer population survey, the first step in implementing a deer management plan, and to creating a budget line for the state-mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems program, known as M.S.4, earmarking $15,000 for planning work to continue.
    Len Bernard, the town budget officer, could not be reached by press time for the final budget figures.