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Jun 19, 2013 12:51 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

State Awards $536,425 To East Hampton Town For Fiscal Efficiency

Jun 25, 2013 5:55 PM
New York State has awarded more than a half million dollars to East Hampton Town for reducing its deficit and lowering taxes during the 2010-11 fiscal year. According to Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, the award is a recognition of his administration's efforts to whip the town's finances into shape.

Mr. Wilkinson held a press conference on June 12 to announce the award and said that the money will be put toward design and concept plans for restoring the former town hall building, which is located behind the main Town Hall, where the supervisor, the Town Board, the division of finance, the attorney and the town clerk now work. The goal is to make it an "open office space" with rows of desks and new equipment and technology.

"This is a performance-based award," Mr. Wilkinson said. "This is an award that not only falls under a free source of income, but it's recognition for our team."

The $536,425 grant was awarded as part of the State of New York Department of State's Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program, which awarded more than $12 million to 13 municipalities statewide for undertaking significant and innovative actions that reduced property taxes for residents. East 
Hampton Town is the only municipality in Suffolk County to receive the award and one of just two on Long Island. The award money will be doled out in equal parts over a three-year period.

According to the town's grant application, the town's finances "spiraled out of control" under the prior town administration, from 2004 through 2009. Former East Hampton Town Supervisor William McGintee, who was supervisor during that period, was the subject of harsh scrutiny for the state of the town’s finances during his time in office. The town went from a large surplus when Mr. McGintee took office to having an approximate $15 million deficit in 2008 alone. The town’s former budget officer, Ted Hults, pleaded guilty in 2010 to two counts of securities fraud and misconduct for his role in the at least $8 million transfer from the Community Preservation Fund to the town’s general fund and for misleading investors.

"During that time of mismanagement, the combined lack of proper accounting finances, illegal interfund borrowings and complete utter disregard for budget compliance resulted in a general fund operating deficit of over $27 million and the eventual indictment of the former town budget officer," the town’s application stated.

In 2010, the current administration drafted and implemented a fiscal recovery plan.

Mr. Wilkinson said 26 departments were downsized into 13 through retirement incentives and staff reduction and the reorganization of tasks. That resulted in a savings of $4.2 million, representing an 18-percent drop in the tax levy, he said. Since the town put its plan in action, $8 million in savings has been realized, according to the supervisor.

"Through a combination of fiscal restructuring, municipal consolidations and organization re-engineering and by taking advantage of programs offered by New York State, East Hampton crafted a fiscal recovery while reducing operating expenses and property taxes for its residents," he said."Those efforts were not simply a snapshot in time—they continue every day."

The town applied for the grant last July and officials found out two months ago that the town was in the running. Town Budget Officer Len Bernard said officials got word last week that the state was going to announce the winners on Wednesday.

"We feel this is the result of someone taking an unbiased, objective look at what we did here in East Hampton to bring the town back from where it was financially," he said.

The amount of the award was based on the town’s number of full-time residents. Mr. Bernard said it came out to be approximately $25 per resident.

The town was given extra bonus points on its application because it outlined how the grant money would be used for the open space office.

Since 2010, the tax receiver, tax assessor, the planning, natural resources and code enforcement departments, the building inspector and the fire marshal have been stationed at office suites located at 300 Pantigo Place, which is adjacent to the main Town Hall campus. The old town hall building has been empty since then.

For over a year, Mr. Wilkinson has wanted to get all town departments on the main campus again.

Instead of building a new facility, the town will use the old town hall's infrastructure to create a modern, energy-efficient workspace. Once the town finishes the project, officials intend to sell or rent the office suites on Pantigo Place. The employees who work in those suites will relocate to the new open office space.

Mr. Wilkinson said town officials been trying to restore the building and the award money will allow them to do so. He said the open office space idea is inspired by a European trend, where collaboration among departments is encouraged with an open floor plan.

"Our workforce is mobile and often shares responsibilities," Mr. Wilkinson said. "Shared space, open flooring and 
technology-advanced work 
atmospheres should be pursued."

He said renovating the old town hall building and creating an open environment would be an exciting project for the next generation of leadership.

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More proof that Wilkinson has saved the town. Bill and team - Thanks for taking on all the really tough issues despite all the blue-haired nattering political hacks.You will be missed and let's hope the next supervisor appreciates that he is being handed a stable town government.
By MTK (10), Montauk on Jun 19, 13 1:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
I LOVE the "fact" that $25 pp is mentioned here, when what we were looking at (and the reality was) that Sylvia Overby and the Dem Committee were up there counting votes with Bill McGintee while they accumulated a 30 million dollar deficit. Yay! We won! They said. And Democratic Committee members Chris Kelley (it's all those Spanish people in Springs that drive up school taxes), Ms. Overby (you're helping people - stop it) Rona Klopman (I'm right here with Sylvia, in "Imagainstit") Deb "The ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jun 19, 13 10:19 PM
That is some model for municipal politics. 1.) mismanage the taxpayers money 2.) fire the local citizens working for you to make up for the wasted money 3.) get a half million dollars of the same tax payers money that you fired 4.) get ''bonus points because your application says you'll use the money for open space and finally, use the tax payer's cash to upgrade your building whereby the open space simply refers to an open space design of your upgraded building. Wow.
By KevinLuss (356), Detroit, Michigan on Jun 20, 13 6:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
In this era of runaway corrupt government on our national and state level, Bill Wilkinson's government stands as a model to which every municipality should aspire. Mr. Cantwell, Bill's likely successor has big shoes to fill and I think he knows that.
But, the funniest thing I have read in a while is the comment above, allegedly from a resident of Detroit. Detroit, Michigan has been in financial meltdown for decades. Crime rates are in the stratosphere. Neighborhoods are regularly ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Jun 20, 13 11:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
The ''writer above'' is sorry to disappoint but has lived here since he was born there...but it does seem to throw people off. At least we disagree on what happened to my once great hometown. You may to go a little easy on the town that gave the world Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Mustang though.
Jun 21, 13 5:45 PM appended by KevinLuss
You're probably not going to see this but I really meant to write ''agree'' not disagree....we do agree on what caused the socio-economic collapse of Detroit.
By KevinLuss (356), Detroit, Michigan on Jun 20, 13 5:45 PM
Bill cut taxes by firing town workers, precisely his job while at Disney, so it's hardly surprising that he was good at it. He also tried to slough off all town facilities and services that weren't producing revenue. He's a one-dimensional corporatist, incapable of understanding that civic governance is a more involved process than corporate governance in which the sole concern is the bottom line. Moreover, just as at DIsney, his insufferable personality eventually led to his employers' deciding ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 20, 13 6:24 PM
tell it to your pal jay sears maybe he will listen to your noxious nonsenses,

I say nice job mr wilkinson
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Jun 20, 13 6:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
I love how some people like big head gloss over, or completely ignore, the scale and gravity of the Towns fiscal straights that Bill had to confront and fix. You can't manage your way through a $27million budget hole without laying people off. And civic governance means making hard and unpopular decisions (see leaf pick-up). And the fact was that prior administrations had allowed the size of EHT's staffing to balloon beyond reason. The cuts (and reorg) were enacted while maintaining necessary service ...more
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Jun 20, 13 9:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
The odor left behind by Baron Wilhelm von Disney and the Infanta Theresa will preclude the election of any Republican town candidates for years. The arrogance and discourtesy of this duo is so extreme as to suggest a shared mental disorder.

Residents are ready for mere mortals to assume the helm of town government. Two terms of Republicans who think that they have the mandate of heaven are enough.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 20, 13 10:10 PM
Speaking of mental disorders HHS ....
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jun 21, 13 11:32 AM
No one was laid off. They were offered packages. Headcount was just below 400. It is now 303 and still about 150 over what it should be. The next Supervisor should indeed continue reduced the size of this still bloated government. HHS don't talk to me about civic governance. I don't even know what you mean. Lean, efficiently run government is good for the citizens and believe it or not, it is good for the staff. People sitting around with nothing to do, or with bad attitudes about their job ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Jun 21, 13 3:40 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 21, 13 9:45 PM
to Carole Campolo:

How serendipitous that so many EH town workers were ready to accept "packages" to leave (without being threatened with being fired without any package at all if there weren't enough "volunteers".)

Bill fired (excuse me, offered "packages" to) town workers and borrowed money. You act as if that's equivalent to turning water into wine. In fact, it is precisely what ANY supervisor would have done, although a more compassionate one would have fired fewer and maintained ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 21, 13 10:55 PM
No reason whatsoever for taking down my comment - other than it clearly exhibited the flaws and untruths in High Hat Size comments.

Some of those people retiring as a result of legislators being "finessed" into voting for it, are collecting $50K and $60K a year in retirement pay, with lifetime health insurance benefits at no cost. Not many local workers who mow lawns for a living, or clean pools, or drive trucks are crying crocodile tears for these "fired" workers. And the bottom line is ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 22, 13 10:57 AM
to mrmako61:

What a shame that Bill didn't fire twenty or so more town workers. The award would have been even bigger.

On a more profound level, though, what a shame that Human Resources corporatists like Bill see the names of employees on the rolls as mere functional identifiers rather than as living, breathing people.

And as a different aspect of shame, shame on the citizens of East Hampton for re-electing an emotionally impaired individual whose disorders were clearly ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 22, 13 9:24 PM
"Repugnant personalities." Wow, that is deep, man. You really know how to make a point. I am not sure how NYC got out of bankruptcy without that level of intellectual give and take.

With 30 years government experience, managing staff and managing budgets larger than EH Town's budget I forget in one afternoon, more than your entire universe of knowledge about what you call "civic governance." You ain't got a clue, pal.

But, this week has brought such joy to me, ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Jun 22, 13 11:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
to Carole Campolo:

Your assertion that EH Town should dismiss over 60% of its employees who, in your opinion are (to reiterate) "toxic" with "bad attitudes" and who "sit[...] around with nothing to do" illustrates the delusional corporatist perspective that you share with Bill. (Why stop at 60%? Why not fire EVERYBODY? The bottom line would be so much healthier!) One shudders to imagine the wreckage left behind in government by your 30 years of irrational, zealous misfeasance. Indeed, ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 23, 13 2:12 AM
If you read the reports over the last three years you would know East Hampton has reduced staff by about 25% not the 60% you claim. The fact you must lie outright to make a point raises serious questions about everything you state. I also find it ironic that ATH in my town and Bellone in my county have crowed about staff reductions to get spending under control but you have nary a bad thing to say about them. You are so obvious that you have become the clown of the East End news posters. You're ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 23, 13 11:36 AM
The Jester will now speak. Jester, take it away - what new things can you make up today?
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 23, 13 11:38 AM
to mrmako61:

Quote from Carole Campolo's post:

"Headcount was just below 400. It is now 303 and still about 150 over what it should be."

QED, Ms. Campolo believes that 60% of town employees should have been dismissed, just as I said. Her belief betrays a thought process straight out of "Alice in Wonderland". Is the headcount too high? Then, "Off with their heads" (as her role model, the Red Queen, would say.) This cold-blooded, mean, and profoundly delusional proposal ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 23, 13 1:26 PM
HHS, don't ever, EVER presume to know what I believe. Anyone who is not man enough to use their real name should never guess what honest people believe and are thinking. So, here are some facts. FACTS something I know you are not equipped to deal with. But, here we go. Ready? In May I appeared on a panel hosted by the Group for Good Government (GGG) discussing whether East Hampton should hire a Town Manager. To prepare, I did some research as one of my fellow panelists was the Town Manager ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Jun 23, 13 10:17 PM

to Carole Campolo:

A thousand pardons, Your Grace, but your post simply affirms that I was CORRECT in my statement of your belief. (I merely understated it a bit.) Rather than believing that 60% of the EH town employees should be dismissed, as I originally stated, your ultimate post reveals that you actually believe that at least 67% (270 in toto [including 170 current employees]) should be given the heave-ho.

As for civil service employment in Mam[a]rone[c]k, there ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 24, 13 11:43 AM
HHS, the JESTER speaks again!!!!!!!! 60% Dismissed? - the jokes continue. Reality - 25% retired with free lifetime health benefits and generous state retirement payments all on the taxpayers dime.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 24, 13 6:31 PM
to mrmako61:

Your reading incomprehension is bewildering. Ms. Campolo has stated that she would like to see the town employee headcount reduced to 130. That would be a 67% reduction from the figure of 400 of four years ago (and and additional reduction of 170 from the current count of 300.) That's what she SAID, for goodness sake.

To reiterate, if one is coerced into leaving one's job, one is fired. Just ask Bill who “took early retirement" from Disney. (That's another ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 24, 13 11:01 PM
My comprehension is quite good. You have repeatedly stated Wilkinson fired 60% of the work force. That is a simple and provable lie. The work force was reduced by 25% and no one (actually maybe one or two) were non retirees. That means the Town, through retirement, which the Democrat State government has encouraged, has reduced the workforce, saved money, lowered taxes, and got the town out of the fiscal mess created by the previous administration (Democrats - all five board members). And now ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 26, 13 5:41 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Jun 25, 13 9:22 AM
I believe it is members of the Democrat Committee and newly-to-be-elected leader Larry Cantwell who are pushing for the added and unnecessary position of Town Manager, and who are holding up Mamaroneck as a shining example of emulation for the Town of East Hampton. Not Carole Campolo. What she is stating appears to be factual, no matter what party one claims to be affiliated with, and no matter how much HHS seems to have a "problem" with Bill Wilkinson's personality. I would imagine if people ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jun 26, 13 4:38 PM
to Board Watcher:

Actually, I am universally loved.

Can you cite a source for your assertion that Larry Cantwell wants to reduce the town employee census to 130 in emulation of Mamaroneck, just like Carole Campolo? Your reply is awaited with anticipation.

to mrmako61:

I give up. The text is there for you to read in black and white wherein I quote Carole Campolo's statement that SHE wants to reduce the town workforce to 130 and you nonetheless continue to assert ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jun 29, 13 12:02 AM
JESTER --- Have you really given up??????It's about time.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 30, 13 6:05 PM
Gotta love a guy who claims to be universally loved. Actually, I can attest to the fact that this claim is true. Go, highhat!
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jul 1, 13 11:50 AM
Anyone else find the headline oxymoronic? Here's some money because you saved some money? Why the hell should STATE taxpayers reward EASTHAMPTON TOWN?????
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 29, 13 10:33 AM
I think it is an incentive for municipalities and other government entities to be creative and bold, and to be less political and willing to streamline, reduce spending and be efficient even if it is not always popular with some. If a $500K incentive can get municipalities to save several millions on a recurring basis then the taxpayer comes out way, way ahead.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Jun 30, 13 6:08 PM