12/18/12 8:00am

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty weighed in on issues local, national and global during a radio interview.

When it comes to gun control, it’s time to “move the line a little bit toward more supervision,” Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty commented at the start of an hour-long “Ask the Supervisor” call-in show on WLNG radio Monday afternoon.

There were no callers so the supervisor responded only to comments and questions from host Dan Duprey and covered a range of familiar topics, from the 2013 budget and Sylvester Manor to ferry rates and shared docks.

At the start of the program, he said that 240,000 guns had been “legitimately sold in the U.S.” on Black Friday, the big retailing day after Thanksgiving. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, there’s “a general consensus to do something” to further limit access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

Shelter Island is “our own little paradise out here,” he said, “which provokes the sick mind a little bit so we have to be prepared,” the supervisor said.

Also during the program, the supervisor said the town had been been “very fortunate” because Hurricane Sandy turned inland into New Jersey, sparing the East End the worst of it. Aside from “serious flooding,” the town had “a few trees down but nothing serious.”

He disclosed that the town’s emergency preparedness coordinator, Police Chief Jim Read, had called for a meeting of local officials in Town Hall at 3 p.m. on  January 7 “to audit our Hurricane Sandy performance.” It won’t be about giving pats on the back but instead “how we can improve” the town’s level of emergency preparedness and coordination, he said.

Because of global warming, he commented, “In my humble opinion, as an island we’ll see more and more of these events. Shelter Island has an obligation to be fully prepared.”

10/27/11 9:00pm

Supervisor Jim Dougherty signed Richard Kelly’s petition last summer asking the Town Board to let the voters decide to change council members’ terms from four to two years.

Mr. Dougherty was the sole dissenter when the Town Board voted 4-1 in August to put the issue on the ballot, saying he wasn’t in favor of reducing council terms. He criticized his challenger for re-election, Councilman Glenn Waddington, at Sunday’s candidate forum for voting to put the issue on the ballot even though Mr. Waddington and all the council members opposed the term reduction.

He previously criticized all the board members for voting in favor of the term change.

Mr. Dougherty said in a phone interview Wednesday that he was approached by Mr. Kelly at the IGA grocery store with three petitions on different subjects and he’d signed the one for reduced council terms because, at the time, he felt that it had merit.

“On the surface, it sounded very good,” he said, but when the topic came before the full board it “shifted my thinking.”

Mr. Dougherty was also the sole vote last year against a proposal to extend the supervisor’s term from two to four years suggested by board members Chris Lewis and Glenn Waddington. They said they wanted to let voters decide; Mr. Dougherty said it was a bad idea that shouldn’t be put on the ballot. It was soundly rejected at the polls.

10/22/11 1:05pm

REPORTE FILE PHOTO | Councilman Ed Brown

What seemed a simple question about budgeting — where does the money for each year’s “fund balance” come from — touched off a dust-up at the Town Board meeting Friday night.

The principal protagonists were Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who is seeking re-election to a third two-year term, and Councilman Ed Brown, who is in the middle of a four-year term.

Their squabble was about who had been the biggest users of the unspent money carried over every year into the following year’s budget fund balance to cushion their budgets and limit tax hikes — Mr. Dougherty or Town Boards working with previous supervisors.

The balance currently stands at between $1.5 and $2 million, board members said, well above the state-recommended minimum of 10-perecent of the annual budget, which totals over $10 million.

The board’s only elected Conservative, Mr. Brown started the sparks flying when he offered figures to back up the argument that the Democratic supervisor had been tapping the fund balance harder during his two terms than previous administrations .

He also chastised him for claiming credit in his re-election campaign for the budget work of the whole Town Board.
“It’s all about Jim,” Mr. Brown complained, adding that the supervisor’s style was to throw “as many people under the bus as you can.”

The supervisor countered that previous Town Boards had tapped the fund balance when the economy was good and when non-tax revenues were flowing. The money was a “Rainy Day fund” to be used in tough times, not in good times to hide spending increases, he argued.

Mr. Brown was wrong, said Mr. Dougherty, to assert that those previous boards had faced unusual expenses: a new highway barn and the park at Bridge Street, among other things. Those projects, Mr. Dougherty noted, had been funded by bonds and “I’ve been paying for them” in subsequent budgets to the tune of $145,000 a year in principal and interest.

“You’re paying for it all on your own,” remarked Mr. Brown. “Nice of you, Jim!”

According to Mr. Brown, the Town Boards over the six years from 2003 through 2008 had used a total of about $945,00 from the fund balance to cushion their budgets.

Over the three years since Mr. Dougherty took office in 2009, he said, $1.45 million has been tapped.

Mr. Dougherty defended the use of the fund in recent years as appropriate for bad times when revenues plunge.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty

The fight prompted Town Board candidate Paul Shepherd, who had asked the question from the audience, to take pains to say he hadn’t meant to start a political dust up for the Channel 22 camera and the Reporter.

“This wasn’t me setting you up,” he told Mr. Dougherty.

More details about that hot exchange, and other business at the Friday meeting — including the question why the Red Cross Ambulance squad was being taken over by the town instead of the Fire District — will appear in the October 27 edition of the Reporter.