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Shelter Island Town Board discusses auditor’s recommendations

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The town Board in work session Tuesday. From left, Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Councilman Peter Recih. Not shown, Councilman Ed Brown.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO
The town Board in work session Tuesday. From left, Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Councilman Peter Recih. Not shown, Councilman Ed Brown.

With last week’s report from auditors giving the town a general thumbs up for money management in 2014, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, at the Town Board work session Tuesday, addressed suggestions by the auditor to improve operations.

One recommendation was “segregation of duties” when it comes to handling money at the town’s Justice Court, the Town Clerk’s office, the Finance Department and handling town payroll department. Procedures are already underway, Mr. Dougherty said, and policies will be reviewed to improve the situation.

The town will look into giving department heads monthly budget reports to help them monitor the money flow in their departments. “This will let them know how they’re doing and give them a heads up,” Mr. Dougherty said.

A suggestion by the auditors to have the Highway and Recreation departments bring cash or checks to the town clerk’s office daily was rejected. Mr. Dougherty said the amount of money coming in daily was minimal, and the Highway Department has a safe monitored by security cameras.

Councilman Peter Reich said that if every department head reported to the clerk’s office daily it would be a waste of time.

The town will, at the suggestion of the auditors, make a complete inventory of all capital assets.

At the Town Board meeting Friday, September 11, Mr. Dougherty reported that at the end of August, town receipts totaled $8,790,000. About $4,770,00 of that has been collected by the Community Preservation Fund.

In other business: The board set a schedule for budget hearings, which will begin the first week of October and run almost every weekday until the middle of the month.

There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget scheduled for November 14.

Zach Vella’s ambitious expansion of Herrmann’s Castle, the idiosyncratic white structure rising above Crescent Beach on Shore Road, made a reappearance before the board after a long absence.

Town Attorney Laury Dowd read a letter from Mr. Vella’s attorney saying the applicant had agreed to get rid of the third story of the proposed house. The applicant wrote he would remove an “observation room,” but would like to keep the square foot living space (SFLA) associated with the room.

“The 625 FLA would only be added to the proposed house if future area variances are granted,” the letter said, Mr. Dowd reported.

Councilwoman Chris Lewis said this was “a real cake-and-eat-it request.” She noted that the applicant was saying, “I’m going to take it off to please you, but I want you to approve the permits so later I can put it back on.”

Emory Breiner, a member of the Planning Board and candidate for Town Board in November, said that this was common procedure in larger municipalities. Zoning boards and town boards would review both proposals. Also, removing the third floor is moot, Mr. Breiner said, since it’s the overall height of the structure that’s in question.

Town Building Permits Coordinator Mary Wilson noted that the project is currently a non-starter since her department has not seen any amended plans for the project at all.

Councilman Ed Brown, who brought the issue of dangerous traffic on New York Avenue to the board’s attention, said a meeting between Police Chief Jim Read, Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. and Stella Lagudis, general manager of the Heights Property Owners corporation, had come up with ideas to calm traffic along the road, and suggested residents trim bushes to allow easier access for pedestrians.

Chief Read and Ms. Dowd presented a draft amendment to the town code on driving on town beaches. In general, residents with a permit will be allowed access to the beaches during the summer months. The town will hold a public hearing on the draft proposal October 23.

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