New Senior Center in Spending Plan

A draft three-year capital budget discussed by the East Hampton Town Board this week calls for $5.2 million in spending on capital projects this year, an estimated $8.3 million next year, and $7.9 million in 2019.

The plan covers 84 projects for which the town board would individually issue bonds. Ten projects included in it are ongoing, and eight would take place over several years.

Big-ticket projects anticipated over the three years include the construction of a new senior center building for $4.3 million, and the construction of a new town hall building on the Pantigo Road campus for $4.1 million. Both would be offset by the sale of town assets, including office condominiums currently occupied by town departments that would move into the new space.

A total of $5 million in spending has been projected for 2018 and 2019 for a comprehensive upgrade of the town’s emergency communications system, but that overhaul, “critical because the system is now 17 or 18 years old,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell, should be moved up.

Other items in the capital plan are “normal, everyday items,” Len Bernard, the town budget officer, said at a board meeting on Tuesday, such as building and sidewalk repairs, road paving, and replacing cars and trucks.

Mr. Bernard said the draft budget complies with a policy of keeping new borrowing each year under the amount of debt that is being paid off, for a net decrease in the town’s indebtedness. The indebtedness in 2009 was $141 million, he said, which has since been reduced to approximately $100 million and is projected to drop to $92.3 million by the end of this year.

Payment on already incurred debt will cost the town about $15 million this year and next, and $14 million in 2019. Two bonds issued in 2010 and 2011 to cover a deficit that accumulated under a previous administration, totaling $22 million, will be paid off within the coming years; one by the end of next year, and the other in 2020.

Future town boards, saddled with less debt, Mr. Cantwell said, will have more flexibility in budgeting and addressing the needs of the town and its residents.