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Sep 30, 2011 5:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town's Tentative Budget Includes Tax Cuts, Sale Of Poxabogue

Oct 4, 2011 6:33 PM

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson proposed a 2012 budget on Friday that would increase spending slightly but cut taxes, and also calls for the sale of East Hampton Town’s share of Poxabogue Golf Center to Southampton Town.

Mr. Wilkinson delivered the $65.6 million budget proposal to Town Clerk Fred Overton at 3 p.m. on Friday, hours before a state deadline. The Town Board must approve a final spending plan by November 20.

The tentative budget includes a 0.2-percent cut in the tax rate for residents who live outside of incorporated villages, and a 9.4-percent cut in the tax rate for residents who live in East Hampton Village and Sag Harbor Village, who pay for a different package of services.

The proposed tax cuts would build on large tax cuts of between 17 and 20 percent that the Town Board included in the 2011 budget, in which Mr. Wilkinson and the board slashed spending by 10.7 percent.

“I am proud of this 2012 tentative budget, because it builds on and continues the management and financial disciplines introduced in the 2011 adopted budget and places the town in a stronger position as we move forward,” Mr. Wilkinson wrote in a letter attached to the budget proposal.

Next year’s proposed 2.5-percent spending increase is driven in part by an anticipated hike in employee benefit costs, which Mr. Wilkinson projects to rise by 18.1 percent. Debt service payments on the $27.3 million deficit accumulated before Mr. Wilkinson took office will also drive spending up, according to the budget proposal.

Despite the spending increase, the amount of money that will need to be raised in taxes will shrink by 1.9 percent, putting it well within the bounds of the state-imposed 2-percent tax levy cap set this year. If the tax levy cut makes it into the final budget, the town could get credit toward the following year’s tax cap.

Because spending is expected to eke up, the proposed tax cuts would largely be the result of the town drawing on large surpluses in its highway and sanitation funds, transferring about $1.5 million from those lines to the town’s two general funds.

Mr. Wilkinson stressed that the transfers were in line with recommendations by the state comptroller’s office, which has a hand in overseeing the town’s finances due to its deficit.

The tentative budget is the second spending plan drafted by Mr. Wilkinson, a Republican, since he took office last year. His term has been marked by an aggressive push to downsize government, slash taxes and grapple the massive deficit his administration inherited.

The 2012 budget proposal reflects many of the changes, both controversial and not, that he presided over during the last 20 months, including the end of the leaf pickup program, the closing of sanitation facilities on Wednesdays, the reorganization of town departments, the implementation of zero-based budgeting, and the elimination of 51 positions through a retirement incentive and attrition.

“Our financial model recognizes, for the first time, the seasonality of East Hampton’s local government operations,” Mr. Wilkinson wrote. “It is this East Hampton model which has contributed greatly to stabilizing costs, tax rates and the tax levy in the 2012 tentative budget.”

The budget proposal includes no new full-time positions or layoffs, Mr. Wilkinson said.

The sale of East Hampton Town’s 50-percent share of Poxabogue Golf Center to Southampton Town will provide enough revenue for East Hampton Town to pay off the debt it owes on the property in four years, saving $100,000 in interest, according to the proposed budget.

At a work session on Tuesday, Mr. Wilkinson said Southampton Town officials have agreed to buy the share with the town’s Community Preservation Fund for $2.2 million. East Hampton Town will also likely receive an additional $200,000 in shared revenue from the golf course, he said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Wilkinson said he did not know the exact amount of outstanding debt on the purchase, but said the revenue from the sale would be “pretty close to a wash,” covering the debt almost exactly.

In 2004, East Hampton Town agreed to pay $3.25 million for half of the nine-hole golf course in Sagaponack, in order to preserve the property for recreation in partnership with Southampton Town. East Hampton Town borrowed money to cover the cost because it was not allowed to use its Community Preservation Fund to purchase land outside its boundaries, but Southampton Town used its Community Preservation Fund.

If Southampton Town takes over the property, it will 
ensure the golf course is preserved and East Hampton Town will be able to pay back its debt, said Councilwoman Theresa Quigley.

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Wilkinson does it again. Tax rates down. And he gets rid of that Poxabogue golf course which was a Job Potter disaster and the Scavenger Plant, a Tony Bullock disaster.
Wilkinson continues to clean up the Democrat messes -- the biggest one of course is that McGintee mess. Overby, the big Connnnservator, donated thousands to keep McGintee in office; Cohen did nothing to warn us how corrupt the McGintee administartion was and their are postings on this website from the McGintee years to prove ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Sep 30, 11 5:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sorry, to finish the thought...anyone who can't see Wilkinson has saved the town when the Democrat candidates were McGintee enablers are blind to the truth.
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Sep 30, 11 6:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Do you know the finances of poxabogue's golf and restaurant operations after depreciation etc ? How much are we selling it for? How can you say the sale is good without this info? Selling at the bottom market isn't good biz if the asset pays for itself.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Oct 2, 11 1:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Where does it say that Southampton is willing to buy 1/2 the golf course?
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Sep 30, 11 9:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Fourth paragraph.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 1, 11 6:50 PM
My friends in Southampton Town Hall tell me Southampton already made the offer and East Hampton has accepted it.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Oct 1, 11 2:57 AM
to connwatcher:

Hallelujah! Praise Wilkinson! Will there be a "laying on of hands"? (Oh, that's right. The Wilkinson hagiography [explicated in earlier posts] already includes his walking among the people, giving them hope for a new tomorrow.)

On the other hand, if one leaves the Revivalist tent, one encounters the mortal Wilkinson, the one who intimidated senior Town managers so callously that they sought legal counsel, or the one who sent out the infamous memo telling Town ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 1, 11 9:44 AM
2 members liked this comment
And the hits keep on coming. Bill Wilkinson is the best supervisor this town has seen in the 20 years that I have been living here. Can you believe, just two years ago East Hampton was in bankruptcy and now Bill's budget again is balanced and even shows a modest tax cut. And all the Democrat candidates can do is lie about bonding out tax cuts. And this from a group that knows absolutely zip about Muni finance or how even to prepare a municipal budget. Bill and Theresa have righted a sinking ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Oct 2, 11 7:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
Concerning the scavenger waste facility, the BFAC recommended "a robust environmental study of ground and water conditions" before any new contracts or leases are entered into. When are these studies to commence? In 2010, the facility exceeded the output of mercury by 6611%. That is a lot of mercury! Discharges of nitrogen, dissolved solids, and iron have been above allowable limits – racking up 129 violations between February 2008 and March 2011.The facility has run under non-compliance for ...more
By dklughers (46), east Hampton on Oct 5, 11 5:33 PM
OK I don't get it. I just read a bunch of Democrat ads in the newspapers and saw a mailing that asks if I like my tax cut. OF COURSE I DO. Then the ad says the Wilkinson administration borrowed $6 million to get it. So I just googled East Hampton's 2011 budget and see that the tax levy was cut by $10,081,011, which means borrowed money or not I was getting a tax cut any way. Then the Dem ad says I will be paying interest on the money borrowed (it doesn't say how much but I found another article ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Oct 7, 11 8:44 PM
Dear Ms. Klughers: Is selling Poxy and re-investing in EAST HAMPTON a good idea or not? Sell, sell, sell - I can still go play there if I was a golfer (which I'm not). Buying this was a terrible idea back then (I was against it) and didn't make sense - other than making sure the land wasn't developed. But SH could have done it on it's own... Remember when they wanted us to kick in for the Bay Street Theater??? Who comes up with this stuff in EH? The leaders in the Democrat party and the ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Oct 9, 11 3:01 AM
My understanding was if they didnt buy it it was going to be devoloped in a housing association. Poxy is one of only two public golf courses locally (excluding Montauk Downs) and is the only public golf course that offers a full driving range and is irrigated. Its a great place for kids and adults with a fine restaurant and several golf clinics. We need more things for the kids to do not less and do we really need another big housing development
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 10, 11 2:03 PM
Boy, McGintee was a dog! Everyone, Democrat, Republican, and The Frank McKay Party (d.b.a. The Independence Party) agrees. Whoever succeeded him had a big budget hole to fill. Wilkinson did that, by firing a bunch of Town employees (dishonoring a campaign pledge) and by borrowing a ton of money. ANYONE who succeeded McGintee would have borrowed a ton of money, just like Wilkinson. It's not rocket science. (Of course,Wilkinson COULD have borrowed LESS. That would mean no publicity-grabbing ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 10, 11 1:43 PM
nice to see you know so much about EH politics seeing you live in quogue
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 10, 11 1:55 PM