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Ed Brown: Show me the money on 4-posters

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Councilman Ed Brown is asking for a full accounting of the town's 4-poster and deer management programs.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Councilman Ed Brown is asking for a full accounting of the town’s 4-poster and deer management programs.

Councilman Ed Brown wants a full accounting on what the town is spending and has spent on the 4-poster and deer management programs.

Mr. Brown announced his request at the Town Board’s work session Tuesday. Resident Bill Smith made a similar Freedom of Information Law request to town officials last week.

After the meeting Mr. Brown said he was unaware of Mr. Smith’s action.

The councilman has continued to push the deer and tick issue before the board, including last week’s call for a discussion on a referendum to fund the 4-poster program, which is a series of feeding stands that brush deer with a chemical, premetherin, that kills ticks.

“I’ve asked [the Town Clerk’s] office to get past information — numbers — on the 4-poster and deer reduction program from the beginning,” Mr. Brown said.

Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar said her office was working on the request. It shouldn’t be a problem, she said, but it would take time.

“What I’d like to do is take a long term view of these programs,” Mr. Brown said. He added that the town has been shortsighted. “It seems we go at it one year at a time and if we have enough money we throw it at it.”

The request for information shouldn’t reflect negatively on the Deer and Tick Committee or Police Chief James Read, who runs the town’s deer management program, Mr. Brown said.

“It’s up here,” Mr. Brown said, indicating the board. “We have to make decisions up here.”

Last week Supervisor Jim Dougherty, after Mr. Brown’s call to discuss a referendum, opened the possibility of floating a bond to pay for the 4-poster program, but it only merited a brief discussion Tuesday.

Councilman Paul Shepherd said he “didn’t think it was a bond-able item.”

Mr. Dougherty said he has said several conversations with financial advisers and “we could do it, but as a financial device, I’m with Ed, and we should face up to [funding the 4-poster program] and pay now, if we believe in it. And if we don’t believe in it we should start ratcheting it back.”

He noted that he’s seen an unreleased survey from a community association that listed one of the residents’ first concerns was “the tick menace” and right after that it was “don’t raise our taxes.”

There’s a perception, Mr. Brown said, that the 4-poster program is only 1 percent of the town’s $10 million dollar budget, when if examined closely, it is more like 2 percent, which is above the state-mandated tax cap on raising property taxes.

In other business the board:
•   Discussed altering the Town Code to include new language for regulating portable generators.
•   Discussed finalizing a report to the New York State Department of Conservation on the town’s stormwater management plan. The consensus was to adopt the plan and inform the DEC that the town was working on a revised plan.
•   Heard Supervisor Jim Dougherty on negotiations with the town’s accountants, Albrecht, Viggiano, Zureck, on a $10,000 bill for required audits on state and federal money for repairs to the Ram Island Causeway. Mr. Dougherty said that any federal awards to municipalities that exceed $500,000 require an audit. The state also requires an audit of any grant over $100,000, which the town has exceeded.

Mr. Dougherty said there were “cost overruns” on the Ram Island causeway work, which Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. has characterized as necessary changes in design plans. Mr. Card also mentioned that it was known from the beginning the federal grant would be more than $500,000 so the required audit should have come as no surprise.

Mr. Dougherty said “the two audits aren’t particularly onerous,” but he “threw the obligatory fit” in negotiations over the accountants’ bill.