At the halfway mark of the year, Shelter Island’s revenues are down about 11 percent, and according to the town’s accountants, it’s a good bet the fund balance will stay that way by the end of the year.
That’s what Councilman Ed Brown reported to the Town Board Tuesday after a meeting, along with Supervisor Jim Dougherty, with a representative from the Port Jefferson Station firm of Cullen & Danowski .
Mr. Brown crunched some numbers and found revenues last year at the June 30 mark were at $568, 850, and this year on the same date the figure was $505,800.
He presented a list to the board showing numerous areas where revenues are off, including building permits down $29,000; recreation fees off $13,300; special application exemptions $7,500 less than last year, along with a host of other items including everything from garbage bags to topsoil sales all lower than last year.
Mr. Dougherty noted that even with revenues off this year. the fund balance was $2.9 million leaving the town in solid financial shape.
But unexpected events happen, he cautioned, and an emergency could devastate the fund. “If that cash disappears, to pay our expenses we’ll have to go to bond, and you don’t want to go to bond to pay your day to day expenses,” Mr. Dougherty said.
Mr. Brown presented the numbers in reference to some big expenditures the board is considering. Last week he asked Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. make a one-page list on these expensive proposals. They include purchasing a new street sweeper, new emergency generators for the town and road elevation construction.
“This doesn’t mean we say ‘no’ all the time, but we have to keep an eye on it,” Mr. Brown said, while praising the work Mr. Card is doing. He noted that there was 35.7 percent of the Highway Department’s budget left at the half way point of this year.
The new sweeper has a been a bone of contention between Mr. Brown and Mr. Card. Bids have already been received for a new machine, and Mr. Card advised the board to take the low bid of $193,000, which, when the old sweeper is sold and various grant money is harvested, will cost the town far less than the sticker price.
When the sweeper came under discussion Tuesday, Mr. Card said he had been given mixed signals. “I wouldn’t have gone to bid if I knew you guys were going to hem and haw on this,” Mr. Card said.
“Some of the reasons for hemming and hawing is the build up of expenses thrown at us,” Mr. Brown said.
It looks probable that at Friday’s Town Board meeting there will be resolutions to authorize the purchase of a new sweeper and action on the emergency generators.
Road elevation and other major projects will be discussed further.
In other business, the controversial “dark skies” legislation, scheduled for a vote Friday, was briefly discussed. Councilwoman Chris Lewis mentioned she had worked with Town Attorney Laury Dowd and Councilman Paul Shepherd clarifying language in the law “with no fundamental changes.”
Mr. Shepherd, who has been the most vocal advocate against new lighting regulations, said he has continually tried to make the law “the best we can for the people I represent. If I could have pried those shielded sconce lights out of your cold dead fingers, I could have supported the legislation in a general way.”
But his position was about something larger Mr. Shepherd said. “I see choices taken from us like canaries in a coal mine,” he said. “It doesn’t look like much, canaries are small things, but when they stat dropping one by one, something is up.”
On the issue of the controlling tick population, Mr. Dougherty said he would advocate during budget season for more 4-posters. There are only 19 on the Island now, when three years ago there were 60 and the tick population was down dramatically, he said.
Two more 4-posters are on the way, Mr. Dougherty said, one funded by the Ram Island Association and one by a private donor. The supervisor said he was hopeful the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would grant permission for the units by next week.
Mr. Dougherty reported he’s been writing for grant money to fund more units, and said the Silver Beach Association said they would fund a 4-poster next year.