Southeast Supervisor Tony Hay is wasting no time getting to work in 2012 with a ton of changes, including an adjustment in meeting schedules.
Hay delivered his State of the Town address to Southeast residents at the last board meeting. He ran through a laundry list of policies he plans to implement, and then received a round of applause. Here are some of the items Hay included:
Declaration of a Fiscal Emergency
- Hay says that he's working with a negative balance of more than $250,000. He attributed that figure to certain departments' declining revenues in 2011, noting a decline in tax collector fees, assessor fees, recreation fees, mortgage tax fees and more. Others — namely the town clerk's office, the supervisor's office, the town attorney, the town engineer, the facilities Department and the Justice Court — exceeded their budgets, in 2011. He chalked up some of these miscalculations to nothing more than "horrible budgeting."
- He referenced Moody's "issuing a negative outlook for the Town’s bond and anticipation notes" and said the Highway Department "does not have a pittance" of what it needs to pave the town's roads, which are roughly 84 miles in total. Hay told fellow Board members and residents that the financial situation also makes it difficult to prepare schedules for road re-pavement and vehicle replacement.
Freeze on All Spending
- Items that cost more than $100 will require his OK prior to purchase.
- Certain purchases, such as emergency buys within the Highway Department, will be exempt.
Change in Overtime, Comp Time Policy
- Both will require his OK, with the exception of Highway Department employees (which will require an OK from Superintendent Kevin Palmer).
Suspend Open Space Purchases for One Year
- Hay says "Southeast taxpayers just can’t simply afford any more open space purchases at this time."
- He is calling for a public hearing on the matter.
Decrease Fuel Costs by Adjusting Buildings Around Town
- Transporting certain temperature-sensitive pieces from the to other heated buildings in the winter, to allow for better regulation "of the electric heat on the first floor." The oil burner will also be shut off, which eliminates the need for fuel deliveries. Pipes on the second and third floors will be drained and toilets "winterized."
- Permanently move the Town's from the office on Pumphouse Road to the located at 1 Main Street in the Village of Brewster. Hay said this is a safer, less-isolated spot for the employees who work in the department. The change, which is effective immediately, will also allow for a savings in fuel oil costs of approximately $5,000.
Establish Several Advisory Committees
- The heads of each Southeast political party (Conservative, Democratic, Independent and Republican) will make up one of the committees. Its purpose will be to "sit as one and discuss the issues that our Town is facing. Their charge will be to come up with ideas on how to improve these issues." Because the Independent Party has no organization in Southeast, Hay will select a resident who is registered under that affiliation. He will also choose a non-affiliated voter to represent the "blanks" of Southeast — those who do not identify with a political party.
- Hay is hoping to create six additional committees. The second will be similar to the first, but the appointees will not be the heads of the committees. The other five rely on resident feedback — Hay is asking folks to send him a list of the five biggest issues they see in the Town by March 1, 2012 (email him at email@example.com and state whether you'd like to be part of a committee). Once 20 people name the same problem, a committee will be devoted to that concern.
Utilize Outside Budget Consultant
- After working with Al Bevacqua for years during his time on the Putnam County Legislature, Hay says he will employ the Southeast resident's advice on fiscal matters. The supervisor say Bevacqua, who served as a budget consultant for the Legislature, has volunteered to lend a hand at no cost to the Town.
- "In closing, over the next four years, my goal, insurmountable and improbable as it may seem in these difficult economic times, is to restore the Town’s credit rating, get the Town surplus to within 5 to 10 percent of our operating expenses and develop a road repaving schedule and a vehicle replacement schedule. It is a lofty goal, but we have four years to accomplish this."
One change Hay didn't mention in his address was a small change he's made in his office — a fresh coat of paint. During former Supervisor Michael Rights' run, the room was painted red. Now, thanks to town employees who used left-over paint, the space has undergone a facelift. The walls are now a light green.
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