Patch recently asked the candidates a series of five questions. The following are their responses in their own words.
Why are you running for office?
Gregor: I like my job and I think I’m pretty good at it.
Betts: On the top of my list is that I believe that the taxpayers should have an elected official that is capable of completing capital projects in a timely manner. 6.5 million dollars remain in the capital budget unspent for 2010,2011,2012 and there is an estimated 2 million additional that will be unspent this year. Taxpayers are paying interest on these unspent funds.
The leaf program is largely unworkable and it is impossible to determine how much the program cost because the expenses for this and other programs are not segregated. This results in a lack of transparency and the NYS Comptroller recommends that it is a best practice to segregate leaf, snow removal and brush removal in the budget. It promotes transparency and accountability.
It is also essential to work with all segments of the town residents including the town board and other elected officials in a cooperative atmosphere. Attached are 4 resolutions directing the highway superintendent to do his job. It is this sort of lack of cooperation that prevents smooth operation of the highway department and providing the best possible service to the citizens.
Why should taxpayers vote for you?
Gregor: In my four years in office I have:Resolved longstanding flooding issues townwide by improving drainage; cleaned up after Irene, Sandy and Nemo, with lion’s share reimbursed by FEMA; secured $400,000 NY State funding for paving Springville Rd. in Hampton Bays, and $500,000 federal grant for renovation of Bridge Lane Bridge in Bridgehampton; obtained wetlands permit from DEC to elevate 5 miles of Dune Road and applied to NY State for $7.3 million disaster relief to fund project. I’m also a pretty nice guy, and I don’t take myself too seriously.
Betts: My track record is that I am always responsive and respectful to the residents of the town. I have the experience to provide a very high level of service to the residents and leadership for our team of highway staff.
What do you see as the three top issues facing the town’s highway Department?
1. Insufficient funding and staffing to properly maintain Town Highway infrastructure. With the Town in the best financial shape it’s been in years, we need to increase capital project funding for road improvements, equipment, bulkheads, drainage and sidewalks. We should also restore Highway Department personnel to pre1996 levels.
2. Inability to access capital project funds for many months into the new year. This is cumbersome and inefficient: We should submit Capital Highway Budget request in July, so that bonded monies are available in March, not in June.
3. We’ve had a FEMA event every year since I’ve been in office, but there is still no long term plan for replacing highway equipment or adding additional equipment to deal with extreme weather. I would like to introduce a 10 year program to acquire specialized equipment designed to deal with the huge amounts of debris, vegetation, water, snow and sand produced by the severe storms we’ve been experiencing, including snow.
1. The budget has to be examined and a forensic audit must be completed. The NYS Comptroller will audit the entire highway operation at no cost and make recommendations for improvement. This will make the financial operation more efficient and transparent. As mentioned earlier, against the best practices of the NYS Comptroller leaf, brush and snow removal are not segregated in the budget. This practice has been implemented since the current Superintendent of Highways took office.
2. Staffing and training is a concern. We should have the best trained team at the Highway Department. Looking to the experience of the staff, I would provide training that is needed and practice participatory management as appropriate.
3. The road inventory needs to be shared with the town board so that they also are aware of the needs for resurfacing. Currently with the lack of consensus building and frankly, out and out animosity often expressed it is counterproductive.
If the town had the money, what major project would you like to see the highway department undertake?
Gregor: I would like to introduce a 10 year program to acquire specialized equipment designed to deal with the huge amounts of debris, vegetation, water, snow and sand produced by the severe storms we’ve been experiencing, including snow.I would also like to raise flood prone roadways throughout the town.
Betts: Updating equipment and examining the highway barn facilities to determine if they need updating to make them safe and energy efficient.
Where do you see the Highway Department in 5 years?
Gregor: The first thing you notice when you drive in to any town is the condition of the roads. As we have reduced the time it takes to do the fall and spring cleanup, which used to take up 60 percent of our time, the highway department will increasingly be able to focus on infrastructure, including paving, sidewalk installation, tree trimming and removal, and pothole repair. A better road system promotes commerce, business, and pride in our community.
Betts: Under my leadership, I see improved relationships with both the Town Board and the residents. Customer service is key - residents need to feel their requests are being heard and action is taken. I also see a more productive highway department with a plan for resurfacing roads in appropriate need, technology updates for each barn and better trained highway staff.
Patch wants to know: Which candidate will you vote for and why? Comment below.