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Riverhead's 2019 budget includes staff to monitor water quality, raises for town board 

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith's first proposed budget includes

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith's first proposed budget includes funding for new police and code-enforcement officers, and a small raise for the town board. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Riverhead's tentative 2019 town budget includes funding for two additional officers to the downtown sector, a new code-enforcement officer, software upgrades for town departments and new staff to assist with water-quality efforts.

The proposed $59 million spending plan — a 3.9 percent increase from the $56.8 million budget adopted for 2018 — also includes a slight raise for the town board. Their base salaries will go from $48,615.64 to $48,955. Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith's salary of $115,148 remains unchanged.

The budget calls for hiring two additional staffers for the Riverhead Water District  to help the district prepare  for future demands that come from capital improvements and upgrades for the district and new state mandates related to monitoring water quality. 

Jens-Smith and her chief of staff, John Marafino, said water district officials will discuss plans for the district, including a five- to 10-year plan and a review of capital expenditures and infrastructure, at Thursday's town board work session. Jens-Smith  is to discuss more budget details during regularly scheduled board meetings next week.

“As the town has grown, water consumption has grown, and so we need to have adequate staff on board,” Jens-Smith said. The additional personnel,  she said, would allow Riverhead “to continue meeting the needs of our district.”

The budget includes two additional police officers to patrol downtown Riverhead. Jens-Smith said the hires will help create an additional foot patrol sector downtown that officials expect to roll out in January. The sector was proposed in August as a way to revitalize downtown and improve public safety in the area.

The  proposal also includes funding for another full-time code enforcement officer, as well as allocations for software improvements in several town departments, including a web portal 311 service residents can use to report issues to appropriate departments. Upgrades addressing cybersecurity and disaster recovery are also part of the spending plan.

The budget must be adopted by Nov. 20. 

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