Nicholas Krupski, a Southold Town trustee, is also to become...

Nicholas Krupski, a Southold Town trustee, is also to become the town's solid waste coordinator.

 

  Credit: James Escher

Southold Town has hired one of its own trustees to lead its solid waste department, prompting calls to update town ethics laws. 

Nicholas Krupski, 35, is a town trustee, an elected position that oversees permits and other decisions within 100 feet of Southold’s 163 miles of coastline. He is also the son of current supervisor, Al Krupski.

The board on Feb. 27 voted 4-1 to appoint Krupski, of Cutchogue, to the role of solid waste coordinator. The supervisor abstained from voting and Councilwoman Jill Doherty cast the dissenting vote. 

Doherty took issue with Krupski holding dual town positions. She said Thursday she plans to introduce legislation to change the town ethics code to prevent elected officials from holding other paid titles within the town. 

“It’s nothing against Nick. It just doesn’t sit right with me,” Doherty said. “It’s a slippery slope that we’re starting to open up here for the future of elected positions that people entrust us for.”

Nothing in town or state law prevents Krupski from holding both positions, according to town attorney Paul DeChance.

Krupski earns $25,216 annually as a trustee and will be paid an additional $125,000 as solid waste coordinator. He will oversee a department of about 20 employees at the town's transfer station.

Solid waste is a special taxing district in Southold with an annual budget of about $4.5 million, according to town records. 

Steven Leventhal, a Roslyn attorney and expert in government ethics, said the positions must not be “inherently incompatible,” using the example of chief financial officer and auditor.

“The devil is always in the details,” he said. “Integrity in government is a very important feature of a government ethics program.”

Leventhal said Krupski’s roles don’t appear to clash, but suggested he recuse himself from votes if conflicts arise.

Krupski and other trustees say that is unlikely since that board has limited jurisdiction.

“Last time I checked there are no wetlands within 100 feet of the landfill,” trustee Glenn Goldsmith said, speaking in support of Krupski ahead of the vote. 

Town board members considered asking Krupski to resign as a trustee. He was reelected to a four-year term with 6,294 votes in November.

“The ultimate arbiter is the voters deciding to return us to office,” Councilman Brian Mealy said. “I would never undo that.”

The solid waste position will be vacated by longtime director Jim Bunchuck, 66, who is retiring this spring.

Krupski was one of four applicants interviewed last fall under former Supervisor Scott Russell. He has a master’s degree in biology from Long Island University and currently works in water treatment at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

He said in an interview he wants to continue environmental work — but closer to home.

“People take it for granted that they drop their garbage off and it goes away,” Krupski said. “And you have to do it in a healthy, legal manner.”

One key priority is finding other ways to dispose of construction and demolition debris with the looming closure of Brookhaven’s landfill. Krupski said the town should also pursue composting programs to reduce food waste.

“We have to head that route anyway and stop wasting so much material,” he said.

DeChance said Supervisor Krupski may have to continue abstaining from votes related to solid waste department decisions, including its budget.

A town work session agenda shows the town board met in a closed-door executive session with the town ethics board chair, but Al Krupski did not participate in that discussion.

Southold Town has hired one of its own trustees to lead its solid waste department, prompting calls to update town ethics laws. 

Nicholas Krupski, 35, is a town trustee, an elected position that oversees permits and other decisions within 100 feet of Southold’s 163 miles of coastline. He is also the son of current supervisor, Al Krupski.

The board on Feb. 27 voted 4-1 to appoint Krupski, of Cutchogue, to the role of solid waste coordinator. The supervisor abstained from voting and Councilwoman Jill Doherty cast the dissenting vote. 

Doherty took issue with Krupski holding dual town positions. She said Thursday she plans to introduce legislation to change the town ethics code to prevent elected officials from holding other paid titles within the town. 

“It’s nothing against Nick. It just doesn’t sit right with me,” Doherty said. “It’s a slippery slope that we’re starting to open up here for the future of elected positions that people entrust us for.”

Nothing in town or state law prevents Krupski from holding both positions, according to town attorney Paul DeChance.

Krupski earns $25,216 annually as a trustee and will be paid an additional $125,000 as solid waste coordinator. He will oversee a department of about 20 employees at the town's transfer station.

Solid waste is a special taxing district in Southold with an annual budget of about $4.5 million, according to town records. 

Steven Leventhal, a Roslyn attorney and expert in government ethics, said the positions must not be “inherently incompatible,” using the example of chief financial officer and auditor.

“The devil is always in the details,” he said. “Integrity in government is a very important feature of a government ethics program.”

Leventhal said Krupski’s roles don’t appear to clash, but suggested he recuse himself from votes if conflicts arise.

Krupski and other trustees say that is unlikely since that board has limited jurisdiction.

“Last time I checked there are no wetlands within 100 feet of the landfill,” trustee Glenn Goldsmith said, speaking in support of Krupski ahead of the vote. 

Town board members considered asking Krupski to resign as a trustee. He was reelected to a four-year term with 6,294 votes in November.

“The ultimate arbiter is the voters deciding to return us to office,” Councilman Brian Mealy said. “I would never undo that.”

The solid waste position will be vacated by longtime director Jim Bunchuck, 66, who is retiring this spring.

Krupski was one of four applicants interviewed last fall under former Supervisor Scott Russell. He has a master’s degree in biology from Long Island University and currently works in water treatment at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

He said in an interview he wants to continue environmental work — but closer to home.

“People take it for granted that they drop their garbage off and it goes away,” Krupski said. “And you have to do it in a healthy, legal manner.”

One key priority is finding other ways to dispose of construction and demolition debris with the looming closure of Brookhaven’s landfill. Krupski said the town should also pursue composting programs to reduce food waste.

“We have to head that route anyway and stop wasting so much material,” he said.

DeChance said Supervisor Krupski may have to continue abstaining from votes related to solid waste department decisions, including its budget.

A town work session agenda shows the town board met in a closed-door executive session with the town ethics board chair, but Al Krupski did not participate in that discussion.

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