Edward P. Romaine was sworn in as Brookhaven's 70th town supervisor Monday, vowing to tackle post-Sandy storm recovery and the town's dire financial straits.
"Today starts a new day in Brookhaven," Romaine said in front of a packed auditorium at Town Hall in Farmingville.
Storm recovery was his administration's top priority, he said, pledging to work on environmental preservation, local economic stimulus and an alternative waste-management plan for the town landfill. Romaine also promised to cut spending.
"If we cannot rein in spending, we have no choice but to further cut services," he said. "We cannot spend money we do not have."
He also spoke tenderly of his son Keith Romaine, who served as councilman until he died unexpectedly of complications from pneumonia in 2009.
Romaine will serve out the last year of former supervisor Mark Lesko's term. Lesko resigned in September to run technology incubator Accelerate Long Island.
Before departing, Lesko submitted a $247 million budget that maintained the tax rate but proposed nearly 150 layoffs and eliminating services he deemed "non-core."
The budget -- which the town board declined to vote on last week and thus, has passed according to state law -- was criticized by some residents for being too austere. The final version of the budget restores about nine jobs.
Romaine mentioned the board's recent political gridlock in wrangling over the budget, with Republican Deputy Supervisor Kathy Walsh and the two Democratic council members opposing Conservative Councilwoman Jane Bonner and two other Republican council members.
Romaine said he wants to unite the board instead of voting along party lines.
After his speech, Romaine acknowledged the town was in trouble because of declining revenue and increased costs, but faulted Lesko's budget. "I thought there was a better alternative."
Romaine said his administration was still being formed and declined to name either a chief of staff or a new deputy supervisor.
Walsh, who served as acting supervisor after Lesko left, said she was hopeful about the board's future stability under Romaine's leadership.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to business," she said. "There's still so much to do with the storm."