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Town left at altar by engineer pick

ANNABELLE WOODWARD PHOTO Andre Oraseanu, last year’s summer intern with the Shelter Island Engineering Department, is this summer’s trainee.

Just when Shelter Island officials thought they had a replacement for Town Engineer John Cronin, they were outbid.

It’s back to square one, as Supervisor Gary Gerth told attendees at Sunday’s “State of the Town” address at the Ram’s Head Inn. He explained to the Reporter on Monday that Michael Collins, a Southold Town engineer, was expected to take the Shelter Island job but was offered more money to remain at his current post.

Mr. Collins, scoring at the top of the Civil Service test for engineers, has been representing Shelter Island to meet requirements from the state’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.

Because of his Civil Service test score, his experience working part-time for Shelter Island and handling water quality issues, Town Board members had offered the engineer’s job to him.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell was able to lure Mr. Collins back to his team with a better salary offer. It’s unclear how much Southold is paying him, but the 2019 Southold Town budget calls for paying its two engineers a total of $239,765. In addition to that compensation, there may be additional stipends for technical duties outside of the engineering line.

Mr. Gerth has a backup plan, he said, that should provide no interruption of engineering services while reviewing the Civil Service list. Mr. Cronin has agreed to stay on part time while training Andre Oraseanu, 24, who just completed his studies in aerospace engineering at The Florida Institute of Technology.

Mr. Oraseanu was Mr. Cronin’s intern last summer. While still eyeing a career in aerospace, he expressed a willingness to return to Shelter Island this summer and continue to train with Mr. Cronin.

His work last summer involved researching and mapping all aspects of water on the Island and cataloguing information for the town.

Originally from Romania, Mr. Oraseanu and his family moved to Shelter Island when he was a boy and he attended school here.

Whether Mr. Oraseanu can be enticed to stay on the Island long term is still unclear. If he did want to stay, he would have to take a Civil Service test to qualify for the job. At the moment, his presence buys time for the Town Board to look at other candidates.

Mr. Gerth said it’s difficult to find a candidate for the Shelter Island job.

While the job is slated to pay about $130,000 with benefits, it’s hard to compete with larger municipalities, he added, noting that the job, while listed as full time, is not 9 to 5, but often requires more hours.