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Brookhaven Town officials plan to save wildlife center
Brookhaven Town board members Connie Kepert and Tim Mazzei plan to introduce a resolution at Tuesdays town board meeting that would save the Holtsville Wildlife & Ecology Center.
Combining the Division of Traffic Safety with the Highway Department — and moving the division’s funding from the general fund to the highway fund — would produce enough savings in the general fund to keep the ecology center open and free up an additional $200,000, Brookhaven chief of operations Matt Minor said during a presentation at the town board work session Thursday.
The town board must decide what to do with that additional savings, Minor said, adding a few part-time jobs would be restored. “It’s an efficiency move,” Kepert said after the work session.
Former Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko proposed to close the ecology site when he introduced his preliminary 2013 budget last month, citing the fact that most of its visitors are nonresidents.
Kepert, who opposed the closing, said she met later with Highway Department officials about saving the ecology site.
The highway fund would absorb the costs of running the Division of Traffic Safety. Lesko’s budget proposed a reduction of highway fund taxes of 21.2 percent; Kepert said she did not know what the new figure would be. There would be no change in taxes in the general fund.
Officials said savings would come from reducing duplication of paperwork and speeding up processing times, streamlining coordination of projects previously overseen by both departments, reducing administrative salaries by replacing an assistant director with an engineer, and eliminating the need to fill some future vacancies.
Above: Entrance to the Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center in Holtsville. (Jan. 19, 2012)