Mid-winter wrap-up for village trustees

The Dering Harbor trustees took a bye in January but got caught up on village business at their meeting on Saturday, February 20 at Village Hall. Most of the brief meeting was spent on a preliminary budget review of actual expenses for the eight-plus months ending in mid-February, compared to the 2009-2010 budget.

Bearing in mind that there were still three and a half months to go in this fiscal year, Mayor Tim Hogue was cautiously optimistic about coming in more or less on target for the year. However, Village Hall repairs, a new well and the possible replacement of a very old water tank could add significantly to current and future expenses.

The contracted services of the Shelter Island Fire Department, another large ticket item, will come in over budget, Mr. Hogue said. He explained that the amount had been based on the assessed value of village property in the previous year and that value had increased since the budget was prepared. Mr. Hogue noted that the SIFD tax is uniformly applied across the Island but because the village contracts these services from the SIFD separately and is not part of the fire district, village residents are not eligible to vote on SIFD business as other Island taxpayers are.

Good news for the 2010-2011 budget, the mayor said, was that the final payment had been made this month on a five-year bond, which will retire the debt on the acquisition of the Fiske gazebo in the village.

“This will be the year to focus on Village Hall,” the mayor said, and that may involve substantial repair or a new roof as well as the installation of flashing around the cupola — in addition to painting.

On the income side, Mr. Hogue said there was a current shortfall of approximately $10,000, the result of a few residents who have not yet paid their property taxes for the year. 

Staffing and personnel benefits are a large budget component, and Mr. Hogue said that the East End Supervisors & Mayors Association was currently discussing the feasibility of self-funding health insurance coverage for participating villages, although he noted that the East End employee base may not be extensive enough to spread the risk of a self-funded plan.

Mr. Hogue said he hopes to have made progress on the draft 2010-2011 budget within the next month or so. He noted that the new accounting system initiated by Village Clerk Laura Hildreth, while still in the transitional stages, was a valuable tracking and budgeting tool.


The board also considered the following:

• Census 2010: The mayor shared with the board the map prepared by the Census Bureau of village boundaries. Verifying this information is a first step in the census process, he said.

• Road repair: A contracted expense, this could have an impact on the current and/or new budget.

• MS4: The village is continuing to work closely with the town on the joint effort to ensure that all the requirements for mitigating storm water run-off are met.

• Village policies: The trustees were asked to review the additions to village policies that had been compiled by Village Attorney Joe Prokop. The first step will be to determine which of these is already covered in the village code.

• MTA issue: Mayor Hogue described the efforts of several Suffolk County lawmakers to pursue the idea of a Peconic Bay Transportation Authority, in response to the MTA’s proposed severe cuts in rail transportation serving Greenport and the imposition of hefty payroll taxes on businesses in Suffolk County. 

The Volpe study of transportation alternatives for the East End includes a proposal for bus service across Shelter Island, which could be as often as every half hour, making about four stops along the way, he said.

This could contribute to congestion on the Island; “We have to proceed very cautiously … I am very concerned that this may not be in the best interest of the Island.”

• The next meeting of the trustees will be held on March 20 at 10 a.m. in Village Hall.