Walter in State of the Town: ‘We need to model ourselves against towns up west’

03/07/2012 8:58 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter delivering his State of the Town address Wednesday night at the Grand Sea Ballroom at the Hyatt East End.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter delivered his third State of the Town address Wednesday night at a dinner hosted by the Riverhead Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs. (See a prepared transcript of the speech below.)

A bulk of Mr. Walter’s 30-minute speech was used to champion his plan to establish a state commission to help fast track proposals for EPCAL.

But during a portion of the address, when he talked about getting the town’s financial house in order, Mr. Walter went off script a  bit, saying Riverhead should model itself after towns “up west” by “ultimately growing its tax base.”

“I’m not striving to model this town after East Hampton,” he said. “I love Bill Wilkinson, he’s doing a wonderful job with that town. But we need to model ourselves against towns up west. Towns where the debt burden is almost non-existent. Towns that are stable. Town that don’t have skyrocketing tax burdens. And part of that is making sure that everything we do is correct to the best of our ability.

“S0 bringing the comptroller in for a friendly audit, some may say is crazy. Chances are, this friendly audit is going to hit in my 2013 reelection, assuming I run. It may or may not be a good thing. But it doesn’t matter what’s good for me. That is what is good for the town. We will stay the course. We will continue to cut spending. But you cannot save your way into prosperity. We must ultimately grow our tax base.”

During his talk on EPCAL he noted, again off script, that the Caithness power plant originally wanted to come to EPCAL in 2002 and 2003, but ended up getting state Empire Development Zone credits and building in Yaphank. This came as a surprise to many in the audience.

He pointed to Caithness as an example of mismanagement when it came to the town’s handling of proposals for the Enterprise Park at Calverton, saying the plant would have paid $9 million a year in taxes, and adding “that, my friends, is the very real cost of a missed opportunity. ”

The event kicked off at 6 p.m. in the Sea Star Ballroom of the Hyatt East End hotel on East Main Street.

More memorable quotes from Mr. Walter’s speech:

“Today I was up at the Caithness power plant, probably the top premier power plant on Long Island and in this region, a power plant whose emissions are among the lowest in the entire country. Do you know what I learned today? That could have been in EPCAL. They were looking to put that in EPCAL in 2002 and 2003 when they landed in Yaphank. And do you know what we did as a town? We gave them [Empire Development Zone] credits, our EPCAL EDZ credits to put it in Yaphank. It is a half-billion dollar power plant. It is the envy of all power plants.”

*****

“As Tesla experimented up the road in Rocky Point, as Einstein brainstormed while lazily sailing off Orient Point, as C.N. Yang pushed the envelope of physics a few exits away at Stony Brook, as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory unlocked the human genome and Lindbergh took flight from our shore, let the best minds, entrepreneurs, innovators and talents come change the future from Long Island at EPCAL.”

•••••

“This year will bring us an exciting agenda of activism.”

See the March 15 edition of the Riverhead News-Review newspaper for more coverage.

Below is a complete prepared transcript of the 2012 State of the Town:

State of the Town Address 2012 RELEASE