Local Taxpayers: Do The Math

Local taxpayers:  do the math.  Millions of tax dollars–Village and Library–are being spent on capital projects without democratic voting.  This Letter to the Editor, below, is in the June 15 edition of The Southampton Press.

Barbara Matros, who is one of the unelected, self-appointed trustees of the Westhampton Free Library, along with Tom Moore, Mary Anne Yutes, Robert Santucci, Mitchell Schechter, and Susan Rosenberg, penned a letter to the editor that appears to cap their commitment to reconstruction spending on the seven-year-old building [“Your Library,” Letters, June 1]. “We are grateful to Ann Skovek for her generous donation of $1.3 million dedicated to the building improvement project now in its planning stages,” Ms. Matros wrote.

But wait—page 18 of the June 2016 library audit reveals they have an additional $1 million allocated to a new parking lot, $623,529 toward the interior space redesign now under way, $100,000 for a new HVAC system, $150,000 in legal expenses (in addition to the overspend of $195,504 in legal expenses on page 8 of the statement), and $450,000 in budget stabilization.

How do you square that with your letter, Ms. Matros? The cash account on your audited financials shows $4.1 million available. I do remind you as a trustee of the library you have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to be truthful. Where did that additional money come from? I understand it’s accumulated tax dollars. It would be nice if your letter outlined the facts and not just part of the spending plans.

You did state in your letter: “What a wonderful gift to the taxpayers, both year-round and seasonal, who will not be expected to pay for the development.” Clearly, not true.

Ms. Matros continues with: “The library will continue to economize next year as it pays down the principal balance of our 10-year-old bond at the earliest possible time to do so without penalty—June 2018.” But if all that cash is already allocated to construction that’s begun, where are you going to get the money to pay down the bond? In 2018, if you forgo the renovation of the new building and pay off the balance of the loan, you will save the taxpayers $1,328,274 in future interest payments.

One out of three taxpayers did not support the budget increase. The Village of Westhampton Beach will eventually be saddled with tax responsibility for the new marina project ($1.3 million), revitalization of Main Street ($4.6 million), and I dare to take a wild guess at the sewer project, which a prior village trustee said will be in excess of $50 million—all without a vote from the taxpaying citizens.

I look forward to budget time next year, when you will make good on your commitments so eloquently outlined in your letter.

Robert Trager

Westhampton Beach