Riverhead Town Board slashes spending by $375,000

Still faced with a potential budget deficit in the $7 million range,  the Riverhead Town Board on Wednesday formally voted to chop $376,550 from the 2010 budget.
“We’re taking five percent out of every [department’s] budget this year,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “We’re starting to reduce our expenditures.”
“This is a $376,000 savings to the general fund,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “We’re getting there, folks.”
Mr. Walter had called for the five percent cuts earlier this year in response to projections putting the 2011 budget deficit at more than $7 million.
The $376,550 cut also equals the amount the 2010 budget assumed the town would receive in revenue from a settlement of a lawsuit with Riverhead Park Corps and Larry Oxman. The town had accused them of illegally clearing land on Route 58 just days before the town was planning to rezone that property, but Riverhead Park Corp claimed it was doing so for agricultural purposes, and was permitted by law to do so.
Town officials now say that settlement is not likely to occur and that this year’s budget should not have assumed that money would be forthcoming.
The 2010 budget, which was developed by the previous administration in November, also anticipates receiving $450,000 in revenue from the sale of the East Lawn building on East Main Street, and officials now say that’s not likely to happen this year either.
Among the biggest reductions approved Wednesday were $78,878 in litigation and appraisal costs, $32,500 in municipal fuel contractual expenses, $38,910 in automotive repairs in the police department and $25,000 in overtime in the finance department.
The Town Board also scheduled a public hearing on a proposal to offer town workers an early retirement incentive program aimed at cutting costs. That hearing will be held at the July 7 Town Board meeting, which starts at 2 p.m. in Town Hall.
Town officials are still hoping to close on the sale of 755 acres of town land in Calverton to Riverhead Resorts, which hopes to build a hotel theme park, for $108 million by the end of the year, a move they say would eliminate any budget problems in the near future.
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