While delivering a modified version of her State of the Town address to Quogue Association members Saturday morning, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst seized the opportunity not only to tout her financial record but also to take shots at her opponent in next month’s general election.
Ms. Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member who has been cross-endorsed by Democrats in her bid for reelection, told the approximately 100 people in attendance that she was able to bring the town back into a good credit standing despite inheriting deficits caused by what she called “borrowing at an unsustainable rate” and “poor leadership” by her predecessor, Quogue resident Linda Kabot.
“My predecessor was not managing [finances] well, and the town was on credit watch when I entered office,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “Now, we have been assured that if we stay on this sure footing, which I don’t see why we wouldn’t if I get to keep doing what I’m doing, then we’ll get that triple-A rating.”
Her predecessor, who also happens to be the Republican candidate for town supervisor, was sitting in the audience at the time.
During her presentation, Ms. Throne-Holst outlined how her administration “cured the deficit” in the town during her first two years in office “by putting proper policies in place,” including reorganizing staffs to be more efficient, reducing the town workforce through attrition and retirement incentives, and capping borrowing at $3 million for capital projects. She also touted her record of having never increased the tax levy.
Ms. Kabot, who lives in the village and is a member of the Quogue Association, on Monday rejected much of Ms. Throne-Holst’s speech, accusing her opponent of “besmirching” the accomplishments she achieved during her tenure as town supervisor, a position she held from 2008 to 2010, when Ms. Throne-Holst unseated her.
Ms. Kabot said many of the economic strategies that led to the town’s revitalization were implemented before she left office but began to take effect only when Ms. Throne-Holst took over the position in 2010, including the final budget she passed before leaving office. Ms. Kabot also said the town’s tax levy has remained the same because of the Republican controlled Town Board, and she accused Ms. Throne-Holst of partaking in “dirty politics.”
“She took the opportunity to politicize her address to those gathered to bolster her own credibility, and she’s again using her manipulative ability to spin the truth,” Ms. Kabot said. “The sad thing is, she believes this stuff, because she repeats it so much, and she has a following of people who believe it, too.”
On Saturday, Ms. Throne-Holst went on to outline parts of her proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which she unveiled on Monday and currently totals $80.7 million. She said will capitalize on the cost-saving strategies that she’s implemented during her time at Town Hall, as well as a resurgence of mortgage tax revenues that the town can reinvest in infrastructure improvements and public safety technology upgrades.
“You would weep if you knew the state of the technology used by our police department,” she said, describing the fact that most reports must be filled out by hand as “Neanderthal.”
She also said this year’s proposed budget completes a four-year-long process of eliminating unnecessary positions in the town spending plan that have long been funded but unfilled.
Additionally, Ms. Throne-Holst addressed questions about the logistics of setting up a coastal erosion district in Quogue, similar to the one recently created along the water in Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, which collects taxes from oceanfront homes to pay for beach nourishment efforts. That effort is expected to cost about $25 million.
Strategies for protecting Quogue’s beaches has been a hot topic since Dr. Robert Young, a professor at Western Carolina University in North Carolina and the director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, was brought to the village by the Quogue Association to discuss beach preservation in August.
“It’s not for me to say whether we should or shouldn’t [create a coastal erosion district],” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “It’s up to you, whether you are or aren’t interested,” adding that town officials would be willing to help guide the village if it choses to explore such an option.
The village could not set up a coast erosion district on its own, Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius said during the presentation, explaining that it would require the town’s assistance. Ms. Throne-Holst pointed out that any area with a coastal erosion district is automatically eligible for federal relief funds after named storms.
She also announced that raising Dune Road west of the Ponquogue Bridge to the Quogue border has been added to the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study—a more than 50-year-old plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair and protect storm weathered parts of Long Island’s south shore. She noted, however, that there is no timeline for raising the road in East Quogue and Hampton Bays due to funding issues; the project is expected to cost between $7 million and $9 million.
“We’re working with them to accelerate the project because there is a local match,” she said. “It’s what’s called a ‘shovel-ready’ project.”
The village, meanwhile, still wants to raise its 2.5-mile stretch of Dune Road between the Quogue Bridge to the village’s border with East Quogue by about 18 inches to alleviate flooding. The village expects to file a grant application with the state later this month that could possibly cover 75 percent of the estimated $4 million project.