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Oct 28, 2009 1:24 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

King seeks second term as highway superintendent

Oct 28, 2009 1:24 PM

Scott King said he is running a tight ship after his first term as East Hampton Town Highway Superintendent, and he hopes to continue to provide quality service as the town weathers the remainder of its financial crisis in the years to come.

Mr. King, 47, served as former Highway Superintendent Chris Russo’s deputy for three years before winning his current position on the Democratic Party line. He is the former owner of Maidstone Driveways, an asphalt company that he started when he was 26 and sold when he began working for the town. Before opening his own business, he worked for South Fork Asphalt for eight years, under the tutelage of Gary Swanader, who taught him everything from mix design to machine operation to quality control, he said.

Mr. King’s department is currently running with just 33 employees, down from a high of 41 employees before the town budget crisis began in 2007.

“We returned $320,000 to the town in 2008 and I reduced the department by half a million dollars in 2009, he said. “We took an 18-percent cut in employees. We’re operating at the bare minimum now.”

Mr. King said that his department can’t sustain any more cuts, and will operate with the same amount of money in 2010 as it did in 2009. He said that he feels the pinch, in particular, when the town has a winter as bad as it did last year.

“In a snowstorm I have to get up every hour and look out the window to see if it’s started. It takes 45 minutes to get the guys geared up and on the road, and if you’re behind by an hour and it’s 5 a.m., the school buses get on the road at 6 and you’re too late,” he said.

Mr. King said that, in the past, his department has nearly always had a surplus, but the town moved between $1.5 million and $2.2 million out of his surplus lines to plug holes in other parts of the town budget since 2007, and he currently has no money to spend on upgrading equipment or dealing with other emergencies.

He said that, in the upcoming years, his department will need to brace for an enormous amount of new work because of federally mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System drainage upgrades, and he doesn’t yet know how those projects will be paid for. He added that he and other highway superintendents on the East End were effectively shut out of receiving any federal stimulus money this year, and that he had gone to Albany at his own expense earlier this year to successfully lobby against a proposed 40-percent cut in state funding for roads.

He said that he’s increasing the department’s parts budget, so that older vehicles can be repaired rather than replaced and is having workers resurface a number of roads that are eight to 10 years old, using a process called micropaving to “at least protect what’s good” now before the roads fall into disrepair.

“We’re only paving 2 percent of our inventory every year. We should be paving 6 percent,” he said.

Mr. King said that unlike his opponent, he doesn’t plan to make an issue out of “urban renewal” roads right now because of the cost of bringing them into the highway system, despite the fact that he lives on one of the pothole-riddled roads where the town currently doesn’t even plow the snow. He said that homeowners who bought property on urban renewal roads already paid to have the road improved when they got their building permits, but the town now doesn’t know where that money was used.

“You tell me I’m going to pay again, I’m going to go berserk,” he said of his opponent’s plan to pay for the roads through a special tax district.

“I think we’ve truly been through the worst of this,” he said of the town’s fiscal crisis. “I’m crossing my fingers that I get somebody who can work with me, not against me,” he said of the town supervisor race.

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do not forget the waste oil heater installed at the highway barn this year.that has already paid for itself and no more oil deliveries.go scott
By asurest (117), easthampton on Oct 18, 09 3:26 PM
The people who have criticized Scott King for not making a public announcement about ex-Supervisor McGintee’s “borrowing” of Highway surplus might be setting an unrealistically high standard of conduct that they would modify if they knew all the facts. Basically, I, Scott, an elected official of East Hampton, and a State Comptroller employee, had a hunch that ex-Supervisor McGintee had moved money out of the Highway surplus in, or before, 2008. I asked McGintee at a public Board meeting in December ...more
By Zach Cohen (7), East Hampton on Oct 30, 09 7:07 AM