Guest Column: Republicans got us into this mess to begin with

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? 

Can no one admit that the current Republican supervisor based most of his campaign last year on the fact that a big windfall was being negotiated by him — that he wouldn’t even share with other Town Board members — and it was going to happen in December, right after last year’s elections.

Well, I still have my popcorn bag and I am still waiting for the windfall!

And, I would like to set the record straight on the history of the capping of the landfill for all newcomers to Riverhead Town, as well as those who might have forgotten:

Former Democratic supervisor Phil Cardinale negotiated the contract with Riverhead Resorts, resulting in about $8 million that was kept in the town’s reserve account, even though the contract got canceled after the Republicans took over the Town Board. The current supervisor and Town Board, all Republicans, haven’t increased the reserve fund, though they did spend over $600,000 to “study” EPCAL. Give me a break. How many times can a Town Board study EPCAL? EPCAL was supposed to have a strong recreational presence and every time you look around, this Town Board is postponing another project for EPCAL.

All resolutions authorizing reclamation of the landfill (although the Republicans have had a great deal of fun with their spin of fiction) were passed in 2002 and 2003 by the all-Republican Town Board, with Robert Kozakiewicz as supervisor. Over $40 million of bond authorization was passed by that all-Republican Town Board.

That same Republican Town Board spent more than half of the authorized money ($22 million) before former supervisor Cardinale defeated Mr. Kozakiewicz and took office in 2004. Once Mr. Cardinale was in office, there were monthly landfill committee meetings chaired by councilwoman Barbara Blass and the entire board was advised things were going well and on schedule. About a year or so into Mr. Cardinale’s term, there was concern about Young & Young’s analysis and estimates regarding the amount yet to be reclaimed, so new engineers were retained to do a new and independent analysis. Those engineers determined that, with nearly $40 million spent, about 60 percent of the reclamation still had to be done.

Under Mr. Cardinale’s administration, with the guidance and direction of the new engineering reports, the reclamation was halted and capping of the landfill was done for less than $8 million. And the town sued the old engineers and ultimately recovered the maximum $2 million malpractice policy limit, less legal fees and expenses. You know the old saying, “If you tell the lie long enough people begin to believe it.” I wrote this letter in hopes that people new to Riverhead Town know the history of the landfill. So, when Republicans talk about the landfill, they really can only blame themselves for this debacle. Sometimes people have to take responsibility for their actions, and that is exactly what this Town Board has not done — and now needs to do.

Though I’m the Democratic Committee leader, most of all I am a taxpayer in this town. And I’m very concerned about the direction in which this Town Board is heading.

TMarjorie Acevedo is a Wading River resident and current chair of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee.