Government Briefs 12.01.16

East Hampton Town

Merit Pay for Heads of Departments

After approving merit-based salary increases for union employees covered by a recently ratified Civil Service contract, the East Hampton Town Board has proposed that nonunion department heads also receive extra pay based on good performance.

A hearing on the proposal, outlined in a new local law, will be held at Town Hall tonight at 6:30. The law lists and defines a dozen “performance evaluation” criteria, from quality of work to productivity, initiative, reliability, accountability, integrity, and ethics. Other criteria include communication, constituent service, problem-solving and decision-making, creativity and innovation, teamwork, management, and leadership. 

The bonuses would be awarded at the discretion of the town board to department heads “who have exhibited extraordinary performance above and beyond their job description during the evaluation period.” The law is designed to “incentivize” such behavior, according to the draft. 

The heads of most departments would be eligible. Ineligible, “due to the nature of their positions,” would be the police chief, town attorney, budget director, chief auditor, and director of public safety. 

The proposed law also sets out a point scoring system to be used by the town board in evaluating merit awards. Evaluation periods would run from Nov. 1 through Oct. 31 of the next year. The board may choose to issue awards to one or more department heads, or none, in any period. The awards, of up to $5,000, would be issued between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.

Apartments in Outbuildings

A hearing will be held tonight before the East Hampton Town Board on a proposal to allow affordable rentals in outbuildings on lots of an acre or more.

Building an accessory apartment at an existing residence has been allowed since 1984, with a maximum of 20 allowed in each of the town’s five school districts, or 100 throughout the town. However, only a small number of them have actually been built, according to building permit records. As a need remains for affordable housing, the town’s community housing opportunity fund committee recommended the revision to the law to allow residential rentals in outbuildings.

Should the revised law pass, homeowners, who must live on site if an affordable apartment is created, may opt to live in the apartment and rent the principal residence instead. 

 Town officials held a hearing on the revisions earlier this fall and have since made changes to the proposal, including instituting the one-acre minimum lot size for detached  rentals, based on concerns about overcrowding on smaller properties. 

The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.  

Airport Improvements

State legislation that will allow the Town of East Hampton to finance improvements at the East Hampton Airport over 30 years has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Currently, bonds for airport improvements must be paid back within 10 years. In seeking to gain more local control over the airport, which must be run according to Federal Aviation Administration rules, town officials had planned to stop taking F.A.A. money for airport improvements. The state legislation will allow the town to finance needed work more easily. Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. co-sponsored the legislation.


Response to Racist Fliers 

Responding to the recent distribution of fliers for the Ku Klux Klan and another white supremacist group at several locations here, the town’s anti-bias task force has called them “unsettling and disappointing,” and a cause of “alarm and fear.”

The task force reiterated its mission to “address concerns of hate rhetoric that [appear] to be on the rise nationally,” noting in a release that it supports “education, understanding, and community awareness.” The task force’s next meeting, which is open to the public, will be on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Town Hall. J.P.


New York State

Offshore Wind Site Auction

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has submitted documentation and a bid deposit to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to take part in a Dec. 15 auction for a 79,350-acre wind energy area 12 miles off the Long Island coast, putting it on track to be the first state entity to participate in such an auction. 

The agency submitted qualifications and financial forms for the online auction, with asking prices set by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In recognition of public comments regarding the potential benefits of public entities winning the lease area, such as reduced costs and greater certainty for developers, the bureau is offering a 10-percent nonmonetary credit to qualified bidders who meet the definition of a government authority. NYSERDA has submitted the required documentation and requested the credit.

“Offshore wind is crucial to meeting New York’s ambitious energy goals under Governor Cuomo,” John B. Rhodes, the agency’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement issued yesterday. “If NYSERDA is successful in the bidding, we will engage all involved stakeholders and ensure that offshore wind in New York is developed responsibly and in a way that balances the needs of all constituents, including coastal communities and the fishing and maritime industries. We will also ensure that the site will be developed competitively for the greatest benefit for all New Yorkers.” C.W.