In her quarterly state of the town address at Southampton Town Hall on Friday, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst painted a picture of a town on the comeback, with organized labor, local businesses, and the town board working in harmony.
Addressing an overflow crowd, she said town employees were helping Southampton turn “a most significant corner” in its economic recovery.
Ms. Throne-Holst, elected in 2009 and up for re-election this fall, said she had wrought a “leaner, more fiscally sound” town government, and emphasized technocratic competence and a cordial relationship with her colleagues. Calling this the “final step in a long, elaborate odyssey,” Ms. Throne-Holst pointed to a roughly 20-percent reduction in the town’s deficit (from $8.1 million to $6.5 million) and a surplus in the town police fund as positive indicators. “In short, we achieved a net $1 million in improved fund balances in 2010,” she said.
The supervisor raised the issue of annual full value reassessment, a practice the town is unique in carrying out, and to which she proposed an alternative at a recent Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting. Ms. Throne-Holst suggested she would make the trip soon to Albany to discuss new assessment practices with state legislators and the Office of Real Property Tax Services.
She touched on land use issues, noting that Councilwoman Bridget Fleming was at work with the town trustees and the Land Management Department on a local waterfront revitalization plan, and she emphasized the need for public officials to be aggressive stewards of the land and natural resources.
On energy issues, she pointed out that the Towns of Southampton and Babylon are the sites of pilot programs, in partnership with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Long Island Power Authority, to provide $5,000 rebates for those who renovate their houses in environmentally sensitive ways.
Housing efforts for Southampton Town have been consolidated into one body, the housing authority, which Ms. Throne-Holst said will “begin the construction of nine affordable homes this year,” with plans for additional houses within the next two years. The town’s ranking under the Housing Choice Voucher program, run by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, rocketed up from a non-passing grade to 98 percent this year, the supervisor added.
Code enforcement, Ms. Throne-Holst said, had received a boost under her watch, with the number of ordinance inspectors increasing to six, thanks to filling three vacancies and the creation of a new position.
She praised Councilwoman Nancy Graboski for working with the county to get sidewalks along the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike and make improvements to traffic and road safety on Scuttlehole Road, and she credited Councilman Chris Nuzzi with spearheading the reopening of the food and beverage service space at the Poxabogue Golf Course in Sagaponack.
The supervisor closed by thanking retiring Police Chief James Overton for his 40 years of service.