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Nov 7, 2012 10:26 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Trustees Delay Budget Transfer For Third Time

Nov 7, 2012 12:51 PM

The Westhampton Beach Village Trustees agreed to hold over a proposed $100,000 budget transfer for the 2011-12 fiscal year for the third time last week, and will most likely not take any action on the resolution until an outside audit of village finances is completed.

At their most recent meeting last Thursday, November 1, Deputy Mayor Hank Tucker and Trustees Patricia DiBenedetto and Charlie Palmer agreed to again postpone the transfer, which officials said is needed to help bring certain lines of the village’s compensated account—which covers retirements and vacation time for various offices—out of the red.

According to Village Clerk Rebecca Molinaro, the account itself is in good financial standing, with a $1 million fund balance, but specific lines are in the red and total $248,236. The proposed $100,000 transfer will be the first of several needed to address the shortages.

Mayor Conrad Teller and Trustee Ralph Urban, who opposed the measure for the second month in a row, favor approving the transfer. When reached this week, Mr. Teller said he was not sure why the other trustees keep holding over the transfer, stating that he finds the process unnecessary.

“They are probably looking for the money I have siphoned off and put into an account in the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Teller quipped. “I don’t know what they are doing.”

Mr. Tucker said he and the other trustees are still waiting for specific information about the pending budget transfers, adding that the request can be delayed for several more weeks, until an ongoing audit is finished. Last month, the trustees hired an outside attorney, former Bellport Village Clerk Scott B. Augustine, at a rate of $175 per hour, to investigate financial transactions over the past year. The audit was requested after officials discovered an accounting error by Ms. Molinaro, in which all full-time village employees were overpaid by approximately $22,000. The board has agreed to pay Mr. Augustine up to $5,000 for his services.

Mr. Teller confirmed that the village’s annual audit, which is different from the one requested by Mr. Tucker and being conducted by the firm Satty, Levine and Ciacco CPA of Jericho, is ongoing and a final report should be provided to the village in either late December or early January. He also noted that at his request, the State Comptroller’s office, which has not reviewed village finances since 1994, will also be conducting a third audit later this month, free of charge. That review, Mr. Teller said, was scheduled to take place last Tuesday but had to be rescheduled due to Superstorm Sandy. A new date has not been set.

Mr. Tucker said he was happy with all the reviews of the village finances and stands by the extra review.

“At this point in time, we are waiting for the details on the budget transfers,” Mr. Tucker said. “That is being handled. There is an audit going on, we will have our information that way.”

At the same meeting, trustees allocated the $10,000 awarded to the village as part of the 2013 Community Development Block Grant Funding to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Officials said that $6,500 will be used by Family Counseling Services, which operates on church property, and the remaining $3,500 will be used to install curb cuts to improve handicapped accessibility in the village. According to Mr. Teller, the church will have a say in locations for the curb cuts.

Trustees also approved a redesign for the village website at a cost of $2,800. The new site, which will have the same address, www.westhamptonbeach.org, will be more user-friendly, with social network links. The main reason for the redesign, officials said, is so the village can better update residents about village happenings, meetings and emergencies in a timely manner.

Speed Bumps Requested

Residents of Rogers Avenue have submitted a petition to village officials stating that cars driving down their street, which runs parallel to Old Riverhead Road, are speeding and causing a hazardous situation. The petition, which was signed by 42 people, is requesting that speed reducing measures, ranging from speed bumps to traffic lights, be installed on the street.

At last week’s meeting, Westhampton Beach Police Chief Ray Dean said he had some statistics about speeding on that particular street, and he is happy to meet with residents at a later time to discuss it with them. Currently, the speed limit on the street is 30 mph, and Mr. Dean said that there have been complaints about speeding on the street in the past.

In response, the village has set up speed radars in the area, and he will look at the information before meeting with neighbors. However, the village is restricted in options for the area because of state regulations, Mr. Dean said, and stressed that speed bumps are not an option.

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Starting to sound like shades of East Hampton Budgeting "Oh we are in balance..see! Oh wait you mean that positive is offset by the negative on this page? Oh wait...that means I'm running a deficit!"

Sounds silly but unfortunately was true just a short time ago in EH.

maybe they forgot to budget for those golden parachutes?
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 8, 12 9:16 AM