Lupinacci Rejects Councilmembers’ Demands He Violate Town Code, State Law
Huntington Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci has released a statement laying out the Town’s budget process and timeline:
“I am releasing this statement to express my extreme disappointment with Councilman Cuthbertson and Councilwoman Cergol’s grandstanding statement to the press about the Town of Huntington budget process. In their joint statement, they demanded that I violate Chapter 10 of the Huntington Town Code and Article 8, Chapter 103 of New York State Town Law. Town Board members have a defined role in the budget process but that role only begins after the Supervisor presents a budget to the Town Board and Town Clerk as is required by statute.
“The budgetary process is set forth in Chapter 10, Section 2 of the Huntington Town Code. There it states that it is solely the Supervisor’s responsibility to present a budget to the Town Board and the Town Clerk by September 30th. It is not the Town Board’s role – and frankly it would be improper – to participate in this governmental function that the law specifically mandates be the Supervisor’s responsibility.
“Laid out in Article 8, Chapter 106 of New York State Town Law, the Supervisor, as chief administrative and fiscal officer of the Town, meets with our department heads to go over the budget line-by-line, including staffing decisions and potential staff reductions. Such matters regarding personnel are confidential and cannot be discussed in public.
“The Supervisor’s budget is required to include details such as a statement of each anticipated line item balance, with an explanation if the numbers are expected to deviate more than 10% from the current budget, it references specific anticipated revenue shortfalls or increases, and the reasons for any increased or decreased expenses. If the anticipated fund balance for any fund is off by 5% (surplus or deficit), the Supervisor must file a report to the Town Board citing the reasons for the discrepancy.
“Within ten (10) days of the Supervisor filing his budget, the Director of Audit and Control certifies the correctness of the Supervisor’s estimated revenues, anticipated fund balances and appropriations. If the Director of Audit and Control disagrees with the figures presented in the Supervisor’s budget, she states the reasons why and recommends her own estimates to the Town Board.
“New York State Town Law Article 8, Chapter 103, requires the Town Clerk to present the Supervisor’s budget during a Town Board meeting held by October 5th, where the Town Board may call upon department heads to discuss the tentative budget and their estimates. That is when alterations and revisions to the budget can be made and the Town Board votes on the tentative budget to create a preliminary budget.
“A public hearing on the preliminary budget is scheduled for the Thursday following the General Election. This year the public hearing on the budget will be held at the November 8th Town Board meeting at 2:00 PM, during which the public and the Town Board can opine about the merits of the budget.
“This administration has been very open and transparent. We’ve made Town Board meetings more accessible to residents by adding evening meetings to the daytime meeting schedule, almost doubling the number of meetings the Town holds each year, and started live-streaming meetings, though the capability to do so was there prior to my taking office. We’ve done a great job communicating the scheduling of public hearings on major projects around the town, and made it a priority to listen to the concerns of our residents. The Town has also done an excellent job being responsive on social media where a lot of conversation occurs on important Town matters.
“I am particularly disappointed about the comments made by Councilwoman Cergol. In her written quote that she transmitted to the media she complains about transparency and that as a newly appointed councilwoman that her participation in the Supervisor’s role would better enable her to function as a newly appointed councilwoman. The budget process is not designed to help councilmembers become familiar with their role. The budget process is designed to produce an efficient, cost-effective budget that best serves the Town of Huntington and its residents.”