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Dougherty: Town’s financial situation ‘very grave’

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty reported on town finances at Tuesday's Town Board work session.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty reported on town finances at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty described Shelter Island’s financial condition as “very grave” and continuing “to deteriorate.”

Mr. Dougherty said this assessment is due to the town being on the hook for bills totaling about $150,000 that were supposed to have already been paid.

The bills come from two projects. One is from the purchase of a vehicle to transport construction and demolition debris for recycling. The second bill is from a huge overrun in engineering fees for erosion control and repairs of the Second Causeway, which has been completed.

The town purchased the vehicle— “a walking floor trailer” used to haul material in bulk —  with a request for $37,450 in a matching grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Mr. Dougherty said the town “understood in September 2013 [that the grant] had been approved.”

Instead it was denied.

Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. said the material is being trucked to Crown Recycling in Riverhead where it is put on a “sort line” and recyclable materials such as wood and metals are claimed.

In order to secure a DEC grant, a certain percentage of material transported by the vehicle has to be recyclable, and the state agency said Crown is not complying with that number.

Mr. Card has sent a letter to the DEC asking for reconsideration of the denial. Mr. Card said he told the agency their numbers of what Crown recycles   “can’t be possible. We’re there and see what they’re doing.” There’s the possibility that a bookkeeping error was made in recording percentages, Mr. Card added.

The engineering fees for the Second Causeway, submitted by Hauppauge’s Cashin Associates, originally should have cost the town $150,000, to be reimbursed by the New York State Department of Transportation. But the firm is billing the town an extra $112,000 for what it claims were delays, changes and clarification in the design of the project and required re-bidding.

Mr. Dougherty said he has sent Cashin’s information with his covering letter to the Department of Transportation asking the agency to reconsider funding the extra $112,000.