Councilman Mark Mayoka Concerned with Town’s Budget Process
Councilman Mark Mayoka recently held a press conference to bring awareness to the Town of Huntington’s budget process and propose changes to improve the overall process. He is proposing 3 resolutions that he feels will make necessary improvements.
NY State is currently auditing the town of Huntington. The process is taking significantly longer than originally expected. “It is our goal to improve the budget process going forward”, stated Councilman Mayoka.
Mayoka explained that he intends to put forth a resolution where Councilpeople will have a 30 day period to review budget resolutions for bonding. “These resolutions are millions of dollars, so it is essential that we as a town board equally have an amount of time to review this”.
On numerous occasions, both Councilman Cook and Councilman Mayoka have been stonewalled in obtaining pertinent information needed to make an informed decision. (Here are several examples: Another Councilman Stonewalled in Obtaining Financial Information, Councilman Eugene Cook Submits FOIL Request Regarding General Services).
Mayoka stated, “Last year what took place was that we had $20 million in bond refunding resolutions which went before my desk and we had 3 days to review them. That just wasn’t enough time. In order to avoid that from happening this year and encourage civility in the board room, I am proposing this resolution.”
Last year, Councilmen Cook and Mayoka voted no to the resolution for refunding because they needed more time to review the plan. This enabled Councilman Mayoka adequate time to have a meeting with the bond management company. After the resolution failed Councilmen Cuthbertson, Councilwoman Berland and Supervisor Petrone made statements that the town missed an opportunity to save $700,000. Because of the additional time, the town’s tax payers ended up saving a total of 2 million dollars. “The extra time benefited the residents of Huntington to the tune of 1.3 million dollars. The extra 4 weeks were an investment and time well spent.” said Councilman Mayoka.
The Councilman’s second initiative is to implement a policy to prepare 5 year budget projections as opposed to the current 1 year projection. “We are going back to the basics in doing what used to be town policy. I think we need to keep our eye on the ball and work to maintain our AAA bond rating.” Suffolk County’s bond rating was recently lowered.
The 2nd resolution would require the interim comptroller to produce a 5 year projection. “We need these projections to see where we stand as a town. The goal is to keep and maintain our AAA bond rating” explained Mayoka.
“Last year, I requested repeatedly from the comptroller to get copies of those projections. I was denied, not once but many times. Unfortunately, I had to file a freedom of information request . After submitting the FOIL request and some time had passed, I received a one year projection” stated Mayoka.
He continued, “I don’t think that any elected official should have to go through that. We have a right to this information”.
“We as a town used to produce 5 year projections. Now we are only doing one year,” stated Mayoka.
Mayoka explained that in the town of Brookhaven after reviewing a three year projection they found that they were depleting their reserves and that would result in a negative impact in their AAA bond rating. This is something we need to avoid and that’s why we need to go forward and have the interim comptroller produce these 5 year projections. We need them for planning purposes”, continued Mayoka.
Councilman Mayoka’s third initiative is to implement a policy to prepare 5-10 year Highway Equipment Replacement Plans. “The current Highway equipment is way beyond its useful life and needs to be replaced. Much of the equipment is in excess of 20 years old, some of which was damaged beyond repair from Hurricane Sandy. Councilman Mayoka said “The Highway department’s function is an essential service provided to the residents that must be maintained.”
“The need to replace the equipment was made very clear with Hurricane Sandy”, he explained. We saw the Highway equipment breaking down. In many cases, it is 20 years past its usefulness. We need to implement a plan where we begin to replace the highway equipment. I don’t think it’s fair for the residents of Huntington to rely on highway equipment that has gone well beyond its useful life”, stated Mayoka.
“I had a conversation with Superintendent of Highways William Naughton and he agrees with me that we need to go forward and implement a Highway Equipment replacement program”, said Mayoka.
The three initiavies that the Councilman is working on include:
1. To require that members of the Town Council have at least 30 days to review any proposed bonding resolutions before a vote.
2. To implement a policy to prepare 5 year budget projections as opposed to the current 1 year projection.
3. To implement a policy to prepare 5-10 year Highway Equipment Replacement Plans.