Editorial: Riverhead’s budget woes are coming to light yet again

09/19/2015 6:00 AM |

EPCAL is home to at least two endangered species. (Courtesy photo)

Last year, this editorial board warned, on more than one occasion, about the danger of passing a budget that relied on significant anticipated revenues to balance itself in 2015. 

In addition to $700,000 in leases and sales at Enterprise Park at Calverton, the town assumed that its Second Street firehouse would be sold for $500,000 and that its East Lawn building would fetch $275,000. More than $600,000 was also budgeted in the hope that Suffolk County would repay the town for capping its landfill. The list goes on even further.

While nobody here is jumping for joy at the recent news that the sale of the East Lawn building fell through — for the second time this year — we have to ask: Is anyone all that surprised that this money isn’t going to come through for taxpayers?

Budget talks were well underway this time last year. In fact, Supervisor Sean Walter has to submit his tentative budget two weeks from now.

But in a political season that included a primary for the sitting supervisor, any mention of selling or leasing land at EPCAL has been oddly quiet.

Riverhead received the $500,000 it budgeted for the firehouse, but the town has already been informed that it won’t be receiving $600,000 from Suffolk County. And after years of trying to sell the East Lawn building, it’s now highly unlikely that it will sell in the next three-and-a-half months. Even if it does, anything close to the projected $275,000 sale price can no longer be considered realistic.

As stated last year, the town will now have the lower hand in bargaining leases at EPCAL as companies realize its dire need for revenue.

Riverhead’s bargaining position got even worse last week. Who would have thought?

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