Supe: Budget is in ‘the right direction’

So far, about $2.8 million has been cut from the 2011 Riverhead Town budget proposal, according to Supervisor Sean Walter, who is scheduled to present his 2011 spending plan to the Town Board on Sept. 30.

The supervisor, who previously said he had cut a prospective tax rate hike from about 23 percent to about 12, wouldn’t give an estimate on what the tax hike might be now. “We’re heading in the right direction,” he said Tuesday.

The town faces a budget deficit of more than $6 million, which would lead to a tax increase of more than 20 percent unless spending is cut drastically for 2011, Mr. Walter has said.

Members of the Civil Service Employees Association attended Tuesday’s Town Board meeting wearing red shirts, as they did Friday at an employee picnic outside Town Hall.

They expressed concern about Mr. Walter’s request that they take a 5 percent salary cut, as well as fears that there will be layoffs. Mr. Walter said he never mentioned layoffs but that he is asking the CSEA to agree to a “lag payroll,” which would result in the equivalent of a 3.8 percent reduction in salaries for 2011.

Matt Hattorff, president of the town CSEA, said, “We are willing to do anything we can, without violating our contract, to defer expenses. We are willing to help you out.”

Resorts group now owes nearly $6 million

As of last Wednesday, Riverhead Resorts owed Riverhead close to $6 million in extension fees on its contract to buy 755 acres from the town at Enterprise Park at Calverton.

The company’s deal to buy the land for $155 million was supposed to have been closed on May 15, but the contract allows up to five three-month extensions at a cost of $1.98 million each. By Sept. 15, the company had taken three extensions but hadn’t paid for any.

“Our goal is to have it, one way or another, by the Town Board meeting on Oct. 5,” said Mitch Pally, an attorney for Riverhead Resorts, referring to financing for the entire deal, which the two sides informally agreed to reduce to $108 million, plus the extension fees.

‘Dangerous’ Knolls building could be gone soon

The Town Board Tuesday ordered the removal of an unfinished condo at The Knolls of Baiting Hollow at the property owner’s cost. The building has been sitting unfinished for about two years and neighbors have been complaining about it.

Town engineer Ken Testa and town fire marshal Scott Davonski recommended that the building come down, saying its structural integrity was questionable after being open to the elements for so long.

The building is owned by The Knolls of Baiting Hollow LLC, which is run by Emanon Equities of Holtsville. Neighbors say work on the condo stopped after that company became involved in a lawsuit brought by a neighboring property owner who claimed he owned the land on which part of the building was located.

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