Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino boasted on Wednesday of the town’s achievements since he took office 20 months ago, at a news conference he called his “State of the Town” address.
Santino touted the fact that his $422.3 million budget for 2017 cut town spending by more than $13 million compared to the town’s spending plan in 2016. He alleged that his 2017 budget was also the town’s first balanced budget in over 25 years.
“Residents have called for accountable budgeting and I have heard their message,” he said.
Santino also said that he had cut salary costs by $14 million in 2017 compared to 2016, earned the town $25,000 by selling its broken or unused equipment online and saving $1.3 million by purchasing used trucks and heavy equipment. The town has also saved an annual $46,000 by using new office furniture built by prisoners.
Santino said that he has also been at the forefront of improving the quality of life in the Town of Hempstead. Since he took office, the town has upgraded 50,000 street lamps by replacing their bulbs with light-emitting diodes, saving an annual $2 million. He also spoke of the introduction of sunscreen dispensers, 50 automated external defibrillators and boxes of library books at town parks and pools. However, one of the priorities of his administration, Santino said, was the creation of a 9/11 Memorial Park at Point Lookout.
“I am proud of the accomplishments we made together in 20 short months,” he said, adding that he plans on continuing to reduce town spending in 2018.
Santino, a Republican who previously served as a town councilman, is running for re-election as supervisor in November against Democrat Laura Gillen.
In response to Santino’s news conference, Gillen said that his administration is hiding “under the guise of fiscal responsibility.” She specifically criticized his cutting salary costs and argued that such a measure was countered by the promotions Santino and members of his administration received over the past year.
“As essential Town employees who pick up our garbage and fix up our potholes are dismissed, Santino’s cronies and inner circle get big pay raises,” Gillen said.
Santino’s tenure as town supervisor also came under attack at a recent meeting, at which he passed an ethics reform package with a slim majority of council members. A number of residents and two council members called the proposed changes “a farce,” during the heated, nine-hour meeting.
Part of Santino’s ethic overhaul included measures that would preclude Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney and Councilman Bruce Blakeman — two fellow Republicans often at odds with the supervisor — from continuing to serve on the board because of their outside income.
King Sweeney and Blakeman were not invited to Santino’s speech, and Gillen called this “deeply disturbing.”