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Oct 14, 2011 5:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

In A Reversal, Southampton Town Board Converts Budget To Preliminary Spending Plan and Adds Another Public Hearing

Oct 19, 2011 11:02 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Friday voted unanimously to convert Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s tentative $80.2 million budget into a preliminary budget, and to schedule an additional public hearing on the spending plan—despite a fierce argument among board members earlier in the week on doing just that.

The action followed a lengthy debate at last Tuesday’s Town Board meeting that continued into a special Town Board meeting on Friday morning, focusing on Ms. Throne-Holst’s budget calendar—a listing of dates that detail the time line leading up to the adoption of the town’s annual budget.

In the calendar, which was adopted unanimously by the Town Board in July, only a single public hearing was scheduled on the overall budget. Town Board member Nancy Graboski said she believed one public hearing was insufficient, so she attempted to convert the tentative budget into a preliminary spending plan and to set a second public hearing for October 25.

State law does not permit public hearings on a tentative budget, so in order to add the additional hearing, it had to be converted into a preliminary budget.

Ms. Throne-Holst countered over the weekend that her budget calendar included at least three public hearings on the spending plan—one on October 25 relating to increases in the budgets of the town’s special districts, a public hearing on November 9, and another public hearing on November 15.

Ms. Graboski’s measures were thwarted last Tuesday when they failed to win supermajority approval—four out of five Town Board members—to be walked on at the meeting, with Ms. Throne-Holst and Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming opposed. To walk on legislation means to introduce a new measure that the other board members have not reviewed, and call for a vote on the proposal.

Ultimately, the Town Board voted unanimously to solicit public comment on the spending plan by scheduling special Town Board meetings on Fridays until the budget is expected to be adopted on November 18.

Ms. Throne-Holst reiterated her concern from Tuesday’s meeting, stating that by converting the tentative budget into a preliminary document, the public would essentially be commenting on a plan that wouldn’t represent substantive, inevitable amendments to the budget. She added that the preliminary budget would essentially be the tentative budget “Xeroxed.”

“Are you telling me this has no substance?” Ms. Graboski said, holding up a thick binder containing the 2012 tentative budget. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

After lengthy discussion, and public comments from community members like former Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Robert Pearce, who advocated for an additional public hearing, the Town Board voted in favor of Ms. Graboski’s measures.

Ms. Fleming said she was heartened to see a budget process that was much more open and communicative than last year, and in the spirit of fostering that, she chose to vote in favor of the resolutions. “Something’s different this year,” Ms. Fleming said.

After the meeting, Ms. Throne-Holst explained why she cast a vote in favor of the resolutions. “I just want to say that it is my job to lead by example,” she said. “And it was clear during the course of the discussion today that the majority had caucused over this and decided to bring it forward again, despite the 5-0 vote to handle this matter differently, to again press the point of the conversion.”

In an e-mail statement following up on the meeting, Ms. Graboksi denounced Ms. Throne-Holst’s allegations that the Republican-Conservative majority caucused over the resolutions, adding that her sole intention was to open up the process to additional public comment.

“There was no caucus,” she said. “The supervisor can try and spin it any way she wants—I only had one objective in mind. My motive was pure. All I wanted to do was to set the public hearing date so that the public would have ample opportunity, as in past years, to enter comments into the official record.”

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“I just want to say that it is my job to lead by example,” she said. “And it was clear during the course of the discussion today that the majority had caucused over this and decided to bring it forward again despite the 5-0 vote to handle this matter differently, to again press the point of the conversion.”

Translation:

The one leading is usually at the head of the pack, not the rear following a stampede. This quote is worthy of inclusion in the George ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Oct 14, 11 7:55 PM
2 members liked this comment
Our friend Tiger has really gone off the rails this time, he's worse than losing it, he's lost it completely. Or maybe he doesn't have an internet connection, so he can't watch the TB meeting tapes.

If a sophisticated guy like Tiger paid attention to the tape of Tuesday's meeting, he'd know Nancy's Marietta-dictated reso was just a semi-clever Rep attempt to set up the same budget ambush as they pulled last year. They want to keep all their cards until the last minute, just like they ...more
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Oct 15, 11 11:42 AM
Providence forbid the people have a voice.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 14, 11 11:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree with NTiger, this is again Nancy and Linda standing up for open governrment and public input just like they did during the Heaney years. The current Supervisor talks a good game but in the end the best she can do is dust off Linda Kabots budget from two years ago. I don't mind that so much but it is shameful that Anna did not give Linda even a thank you for having the courage to do what needed to be done two years earlier. And by the way, had she supported Linda's budget two years ago ...more
By gusbeme (33), southampton on Oct 15, 11 9:46 AM
Let us not forget that the 4-1 republican majority was irresponsible for NOT RAISING TAXES the 1 or 2 percent needed to nuetralize fixed costs for the prior 8 yrs before ATH. This was accomplished by hiring the Brookhaven Comptroller to show small Town america "how it is done". Now ATH gets left holding the bag. Solution: We need more Brookhaven cronies to show us how to fix ATH's "mistakes". Right boys! (Don't forget to keep ignoring the 70% of tax bill that goes for "education").
By kelbas (30), Southampton on Oct 15, 11 10:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
Malone and Nuzzi need to step away from their full time day jobs for a while and put in some serious hours at Town Hall. They were elected - and are being paid - to serve us. Now is the time.

ATH's lopsided budget needs to be studied and discussed thoroughly. Pressure is clearly being put on certain departments and not on others. This could backfire badly in the future. The cuts, like last time, are not fair-handed and across the board. What is she trying to achieve? Departmental dismantlements? ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Oct 15, 11 3:57 PM
Hmmm. Since the preliminary budget foresees the forced retirement of six overstaying cops, will the Blueshirts of the STPD reenact their previous en masse uniformed mobbings of Town Council meetings?

If so, one hopes that the Council members will bear in mind that no matter how chilling it is to see the audience packed by ranks of armed men and woman who have the power to humiliate and handcuff them, the Kabot DWI debacle makes it far less likely that they will actually be thrown in ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 15, 11 4:34 PM
The tin-foil is wearing thin. Double the layers with the extra thick Reynolds Wrap to prevent the alien rays from penetrating so deeply into your brain cells. In your case, the thicker the better.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Oct 17, 11 7:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
This would also be a good opportunity, in advance of the Town Council meeting that the STPD can be expected to mob, to propose a change to the Town Code to prevent STPD officers from appearing off-duty in uniform without specific written permission of the Chief or of the Council. If the cops' behavior at the upcoming meeting reprises their behavior at the Council meeting when Linda Kabot was Supervisor, the need for the change will be manifest.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 17, 11 1:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
It is intimidating - and meant to be - when off duty police officers show up enmass in uniform. They have the right to go to any open meeting. However, wearing their guns and uniforms when not on duty, anywhere, is totally inappropriate. Doing so at Town Hall has always been a not-so-subtle threat. Shame on them.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Oct 18, 11 11:17 AM
In regard to Anna's budget
Linda the nasty stuff has started, listen to Anna's latest campaign ad on the radio. She blames the past elected official for everything thats wrong. Taking credit for your hard work and your budget in 2009. Don't your remember her radio ad's in 2009, she used alot of what was in your budget against you. Saying that layoffs hurt people, now she is doing the layoffs.
She is trying to make your budget her own. She is such a DISHONEST PERSON.
You must get ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Oct 19, 11 12:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is impossible to overlook the fact that NONE of the overstaying STPD officers that ATH has singled out for retirement are PBA members. This may be appropriate, since those selected are the most stupendously overpayed. However, the charge that ATH has once again safeguarded the interests of her pet PBA at the expense of other Town employees (i.e. the SOA members) cannot be ignored.

When Linda Kabot chose overstaying cops to retire, she did so with the advice of the Police Chief as to ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 22, 11 11:27 AM
1 member liked this comment