After warmly welcoming and introducing seniors and juniors from the school, many of whom were co-stars with Jim in “The Drowsy Chaperone” the prior week, Supervisor Dougherty said the three key issues facing the Town were ticks, taxes and the aquifer. He said Moody’s Investor Services had issued its annual report on Shelter Island’s financial health on April 8th and concluded the Town was in excellent financial shape with a “solid tax base and small debt liability”, reconfirming its Aa2 credit rating. Jim reported the Town came in well under its 2015 budget and significantly increased its Fund Balances, the rainy day funds for use in unforeseen emergencies and severe recessions to keep taxes at reasonable levels.
He reported that health care premiums for insuring active and retired Town employees continued to rise, exceeding $1,200,000 of a total $10,300,000 2016 Town Budget. He said the Town was continuing the policy inaugurated when he came into office in 2008 to strive to require 20% employee contributions to health care costs by new hires, and with attrition and retirements this was beginning to have a significant beneficial impact on this very high cost.
Jim reported the Town is investigating whether to seek a referendum this November on the proposition, enacted into NY State law in 2015, that up to 20% of each year’s 2% open space tax revenues could, in the Town Board’s discretion, be used for defined water quality improvement projects. He said later this spring the decades long monthly measurements by the US Geological Survey of SI test wells for quantity will be expanded to include quality testing as well – nitrogen levels, chlorides and other chemicals threatening the purity and health of the Island’s sole source aquifer.
Jim reported 37 4 Poster units had been deployed throughout the island the past two weeks, continuing a successful tick-combatting practice launched in 2008, and that the Town last week hired Beau Payne as a full-time Animal Control Officer to service the 4 Poster units and supervise and expand the Town’s efforts to cull the deer herd through responsible hunting. Deer remain the principal host for the disease-bearing ticks.