08/23/14 8:00am
08/23/2014 8:00 AM
Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio at Tuesday night's Town Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio at Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

I read in your newspaper that Supervisor Sean Walter and the Riverhead Town Board are issuing warnings to taxpayers that taxes could go up 12.5 percent next year. Is this just another fear tactic — saying it will be a 12.5 percent tax jump and then only raising taxes 8 percent, so this way everyone thinks the current Town Board did a great job because they saved taxpayers 4 percent?  (more…)

08/22/14 7:00am
08/22/2014 7:00 AM

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 4.14.39 PMOver the past decade, Riverhead Town leaders in current and previous administrations have dipped into financial reserves to balance town budgets. Those funds have now run out and hard decisions have to be made in order to close a looming gap of $4 million — nearly 10 percent of the town’s general fund — next year.

Borrowing against future land sales at the Enterprise Park at Calverton — a bridge loan as it’s been called — may seem an easy way out. But the risks are great and it should be avoided. The town is already unable to meet its debt obligations on one gamble it made on future revenues: the Community Preservation Fund. It must learn from its mistakes. The idea is to pay back the bridge loan after two to three years using anticipated proceeds from selling town land at EPCAL. Aside from having to pay interest, the town’s history of selling land there speaks for itself: The last sale was 11 years ago.

Until now, Supervisor Sean Walter has candidly and unabashedly touted an all-or-nothing approach in advocating for the bridge loan: Sell the land and he’ll save taxpayers from a looming, double-digit tax increase. But if land isn’t sold, town residents face a tax increase that could be twice that much — or more over time, should the town keep taking out loans.

From a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, nothing about Mr. Walter’s plan seems conservative.

But it’s the sheer lack of creativity evidenced so far in discussions about reducing the budget gap that has been most disappointing.

Up to now, no Town Board member has proposed any detailed, out-of-the-box ideas that would plug the hole — whether by cutting, consolidating or finding new revenue sources. Considering they all approved this year’s budget, the blame lies with them just as much as with Mr. Walter.

Finding a common ground between a tax increase, cuts and limited borrowing will likely be what’s best in the end. And until the Town Board finalizes this year’s budget, nothing should be off the table.

How about 3 percent (or even 2 or 1.5 percent) cuts across all town departments? Or furloughs? What would the town’s services (and pocketbook) look like if it folded its dispatching, or even its water district or police department, into the larger Suffolk County entities? Are there any permits the town can extend to two years instead of one? Can fees be increased? Surely, with these questions and so many others as a start, that $4 million deficit can be reduced.

08/21/14 6:00am
08/21/2014 6:00 AM
A plan for about 2,300 town-owned acres at Enterprise Park at Calverton was recently submitted to Town Board members. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

A plan for about 2,300 town-owned acres at Enterprise Park at Calverton was recently submitted to Town Board members. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

To the editor:

Are Sean Walter and the rest of the Riverhead Town Board playing Riverhead’s version of Netflix’s “House of Cards” in their new willingness to permit residential development in the EPCAL area(more…)

08/16/14 10:00am
08/16/2014 10:00 AM
Teresa McCaskie, of Mattituck, called for the shut down of East Hampton airport if a solution to noise couldn't be reached. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Teresa McCaskie, of Mattituck, called for the shut down of East Hampton airport if a solution to noise couldn’t be reached. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

There’s much to love about the North Fork as a place to live and visit. Its close-knit communities, wineries and farms stands, forests, creeks and bays all quickly come to mind. Living in what sounds like a war zone isn’t on that list.  (more…)

08/16/14 8:00am
Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (right) and Senator Ken LaValle at a Common Core forum last year in Eastport. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (right) and Senator Ken LaValle at a Common Core forum last year in Eastport. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Common Core is a federal government power grab disguised as a “revamping” of our nation’s educational system — an educational system that, with all its flaws, managed to produce people who put a man on the moon and gave the world the Internet.  (more…)

08/15/14 12:00pm
08/15/2014 12:00 PM
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Ezra Fife re-enacts finding a note on his work pickup telling him that a good Samaritan found something he dropped before meeting his wife Cori and son York to see a movie. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

What would you do if you found $800 underneath a pickup truck parked at a shopping center?

That’s the dilemma 15-year-old Matti Gibson faced on Sunday afternoon outside the Rite Aid store in the Mattituck Plaza. (more…)