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Feb 24, 2010 11:00 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board decides whether to give superintendent more money

Feb 24, 2010 11:00 AM

Much to newly elected Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor’s disappointment, the Southampton Town Board did not authorize a bond for the $4 million he wanted for road work this year. Instead, Mr. Gregor will get the $2 million the town had been planning on.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the board authorized a bond for $2 million—the amount allowed for in the 2010 budget—after deliberations in which Town Board members Jim Malone and Chris Nuzzi spoke against issuing the extra money, explaining that they want to see how the conditions of the roads are in the spring.

Mr. Nuzzi, who is the liaison to the Highway Department, explained that with the $2 million bond, Mr. Gregor will have access to $3.8 million for road paving and capital projects, including the realignments of Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays and Noyac Road near Cromer’s Country Market in Noyac, drainage work on Clay Pit Road in Remsenburg, and repairs to a culvert on Channel Pond Court in Southampton. The councilman, whose opinion was supported by Mr. Malone, said that Mr. Gregor should come before the Town Board again in the spring to ask for the $2 million if he still needs it then.

The highway superintendent said that he would but emphasized that he is a “morning person” and a “front-loader.” “I’d rather see the money up front,” said Mr. Gregor, adding that there is a cost savings to completing all the work this year. He explained that the price of asphalt fluctuates often, but is now reasonable, and said that if he waits to pave, the roads could deteriorate to a point that requires more to fix them.

Mr. Gregor estimated that his plans to complete all the capital projects and 34 miles of paving would come at a cost of $5.2 million. In addition to the $2 million bond, he has access to $1.2 million in funds left over from last year’s Highway Department budget, and also anticipates $600,000 in state aid.

During the discussion of Mr. Gregor’s request for a $4 million bond, as an extra control on the money, the Town Board would have mandated that he come back and ask to draw upon its proceeds. Any of the $4 million not spent this year would roll over to 2011, Town Comptroller Tamara Wright said. Mr. Gregor said he was comfortable with that option.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Nancy Graboski wanted to give Mr. Gregor the extra $2 million. Ms. Throne-Holst said that the investment in the roads was a smart one, and a reasonable one, as the town has no other ongoing capital projects.

“We can kick around percentages ... but are we all happy with the state of the roads?” Ms. Throne-Holst asked. 
“We’re not talking about other major capital projects ... We’re talking about a basic investment.”

Ms. Wright said that the impact on taxpayers for the extra $2 million would be about $2.75 per year for a house valued at $500,000.

Mr. Nuzzi said that it is too early to give Mr. Gregor the extra $2 million, as the state of the roads after the spring thaw could require less or more funding to repair. Mr. Nuzzi also asked the highway superintendent for a list of roads that would be paved with the extra $2 million, but Mr. Gregor did not have the document available. “We’ll revisit this over the next two months,” Mr. Nuzzi said.

Mr. Gregor said that the extra $2 million would allow him to pave an extra 10 miles of roads—which could equate to more than 20 streets. “I’d hate for someone to have a serious accident because of a pothole,” he said.

At a Town Board work session late last week, Mr. Gregor made his formal pitch to the town for the $4 million in bonds. Afterward, Mr. Malone said that he thought giving Mr. Gregor the full $4 million was akin to “getting a credit line,” explaining that he would rather issue the $2 million planned for during the 2010 budgeting process and have Mr. Gregor come back to the board if he needs more money throughout the year.

Ms. Graboski suggested that perhaps the board bond out for $3 million for road work during the work session. Mr. Malone was not in favor of that plan, and Mr. Nuzzi did not yet have an opinion on it. “I just need some time to think about it,” the councilman said in the work session.

The problem with the Malone/Nuzzi plan is the 60-day period following the passing of a bond resolution during which the money cannot be accessed, Mr. Wright explained. But Mr. Malone suggested that, if Mr. Gregor is in dire need of funds for road work that needs to be completed immediately, the board could use money from another line of the budget.

“If we have a need, we are able to move money within government while waiting for bonds to issue,” he said, adding that once the money from the new bond is available, the Town Board could repay the fund that was tapped.

Ms. Graboski said Mr. Malone’s idea was not a good one. “Everybody is moving cautiously and carefully and wants to proceed forward,” she said. “We’re not just moving ahead and spending money without keeping track of it. We’re being as tight-fisted as we can, but there are some things we have to do.”

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So Malone wants to do inter fund transfers -- like the ones that got out of hand before ---- seems like he has not learned from the mistakes of others......
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 26, 10 1:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
another line in the budget does not equate to interfund transfer. the highway budget has several lines for example
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Feb 26, 10 6:37 PM
Don't be ridiculous ... you're missing the point.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 26, 10 7:50 PM
Neither Mr. Malone nor his mentor appear to have learned anything from the vast debacle that resulted from just that sort of non-professional plainly ignorant lack of knowledge of fiscal and financially sound practices. And Mr. Hughes thinks he can balance the towns finances on the back of an envelope just like he does his personal checkbook. WOW!!! That's just what we need.

By barberosa (39), Watermill on Feb 26, 10 5:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
how about gregor work with the money he has? is he all of a sudden going to get the 2-3 paving companies the town uses to pave more miles during the 2010 season then they did in years past? or is he going to wave his magic wand?
the 3m and change he has for road reconstruction is a good start. hot asphalt wont be available to late april at the earliest. there is time to assess what the town needs prior to additional bonding even with the 60 day bond period.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Feb 26, 10 6:40 PM
1 member liked this comment