Referring to himself as a “grumpy old grandpa” when it comes to budgets, Supervisor Jim Dougherty released some preliminary numbers from the 2016 audit at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.
Mr. Dougherty described the preliminary information — a final report will arrive in “a week or so” — from the town’s financial advisers, Port Jefferson’s Cullen & Danowski, as “startling good numbers.”
The operating surplus for 2016 was $497,337, Mr. Dougherty said. However, it was “sobering news” for the upcoming “budget season” that the town “overspent on the 2016 budget.” “We were a little naughty” with expenditures last year, the supervisor added, spending $7,877,000 after budgeting $7,350,000.
But the good news, he said, was that in the past four years expenditures have gone up 12.2 percent, which Mr. Dougherty said was “remarkable.”
He thanked department and committee heads for holding the line on spending, resulting in “the lowest taxes in New York State.”
In other business: Mr. Dougherty reported that he and Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. spoke recently with a deputy Suffolk County executive to straighten out an impasse the town has with the county’s Department of Health Services. The issue is the installation of a unisex bathroom in Volunteer Park on Bridge Street.
The bathroom, with a price tag of $104,670 was ticketed for Volunteer Park, with hopes it would be in use by Memorial Day, but then the date changed to last month. Called “the Portland Loo,” the unit is a sleek, efficient, single-toilet facility manufactured in Portland, Oregon, according to Mr. Card.
The town secured a Suffolk County grant of $67,700 as part of the total cost of the unit, with the Chamber of Commerce providing about $35,000 and the town picking up the rest.
The delay to install the unit is because the county’s health department determined the bathroom isn’t fully compliant with its requirements, Mr. Card said.
The health department is requiring six “leaching fields,” which would mean digging up the park, and that may result in dumping pollutants into the bay, Mr. Card said.
At Tuesday’s work session, Mr. Dougherty reported that in discussions with the county, the town had agreed to install one leaching field, but not six, and that both sides agreed to work it out and the town will be “getting some results soon.”
Dory owner Jack Kiffer is suing the town for $50,000 for its failure to get the promised bathroom up and running at the park. Mr. Kiffer has complained multiple times over the years about non-customers using facilities at his restaurant, saying it has strained his septic system and compromised the cleanliness of his bathroom.