Our agenda opened with a discussion and a presentation from Libby Hummer, representing The League of Women Voters, concerning a proposal to create a Town Manager system of government as part of the Southampton Town Government. Ms. Hummer distributed a pamphlet listing the purposes and administrative basis for “The Council Manager Form of Government”: Based on the discussion at our meeting I have taken the liberty of summarizing and enhancing portions of the pamphlet below.
“The (Southampton ) Town Board is (Southampton Town’s) legislative body, its members are the community’s decision makers and are elected to establish the policies that provide needed services. (The Town Board originates the budget) and ultimately “approves the budget, determines the tax rate, is responsible for planning of major projects with long term considerations such as community growth, land use development, capital financing, and strategic planning.
“The (Town) Manager form of government combines the strong political leadership of elected officials with the strong managerial experience of a professionally trained administrator hired by the (Town Board) to oversee the delivery of public services. The manager’s duties are defined by the (Town Board) and may include:
Serving as the (Town Board’s) chief advisor
Preparing the budget for the (Town) Supervisor’s approval
(Employing and Discharging) department heads- supervising day-to-day operations
Formulating and implementing all personnel policies
Negotiating contracts with employees
Enforcing local laws and ordinances
“The consensus among elected officials (of municipalities presently using the services of a Town Manager) was that there is a clear net gain from having a professional manager. Today approximately 4000 local governments operate under the (Town) council-manager system”.
“The manager may make policy recommendations to the Town Board , but the (Town Board) is responsible for all policy determinations.”
“New York State Town Law states “Any town may, by local law, establish the office of town manager- (and may have the office) revoked.”
Ms. Hummer indicated that Town Manager programs often result in cost savings well beyond the financial burden that comes with adding an additional executive level The experience and expertise of a professionally endowed Town Manager) usually results in a more efficient, more productive town government. Administrative turnover is reduced and personnel recruitment becomes less political. In general the office is not part of Civil Service; it is appointed by the town board and reports directly to the town board.
Mrs. Graboki offered some comments on this subject: the concept of a town manager was originally discussed during the Thiele administration in the 1990’s ; the office of General Services Administrator was instituted In many ways its role can be described as similar to the role of Superintendent of a school district. In Southampton Richard Blowes was appointed General Services Administrator ; his effective career in this post resulted in the continuity of service in many of the critical Town Government departments through the frequent changes of administration . Mrs. Graboski endorsed having the Town Board investigate the Town Manager concept and remarked that the present time seemed ripe for doing so.
Following the presentation and discussion , the CAC unanimously recommended that the Town Board research the proposal for a Town Manager role in the government of Southampton Town.
Pamela Giacoia is the Director of Senior Services for the Town of Southampton, which includes our facility at 585 Sag Harbor Turnpike. In recent years the attendance at this facility has fallen somewhat, in spite of the expansion of services provided by the Senior Citizens’ Programs that are increasingly available to our older residents. Ms. Giacoia came to our meeting to discuss the programs available and to confer about encouraging more members of the large senior population on the East End to make use of the Bridgehampton facility.
There are three Senior Services Centers in Southampton Town ; the other two are located in the midst of larger and more concentrated populations in Flanders/Riverside and Hampton Bays. They are simply more visible than the facility in Bridgehampton and hence have a larger attendance. The CAC suggested to Ms. Giacoia that her department enlist aid from local residents who are or have been members of the public relations and advertising communities to design a program aimed at informing our resident seniors about the rich programs offered by the Senior Services Department, particularly at this Bridgehampton Center. An information program would probably require some funding which the CAC suggests might be provided by businesses located in the Town of Southampton.
The CAC discussed the problem of snow removal from sidewalks and curbs in front of commercial establishments in Bridgehampton. During the recent storms, portions of the hamlet center’s sidewalks and curb cuttings were dangerously covered with snow and ice well beyond 24 hours following the weather disturbances .The CAC pointed out that many communities require that all public sidewalks and curb entrances be freed of snow and ice impediments by the establishments’ managements immediately following winter storms. The committee asked whether Southampton has a similar code policy. Mrs Graboski offered to research this matter.
At the CAC’s March 28 meeting there will be a discussion of the present property taxation system as it pertains to Bridgehampton, led by Jeffrey Vogel. Members of the town government will also discuss its proposals for revision of the 100% Reassessment Policy