June 14, 2006

A Change Of Class

Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale no longer wants Riverhead to be referred to as a Second Class town. Not only does the designation have a negative connotation, but also, said the supervisor, it does not give the town the opportunities that designations such as First Class or Suburban give.

And that is all set to change. Cardinale said he is in the process of drawing up legislation that will amend the town's code, making Riverhead a full-fledged Suburban town.

"We are a Second Class town, a designation that no other town on Long Island has chosen to be," Cardinale said.

The Second Class designation was selected by the town, said Cardinale, when the town had fewer citizens. A town of the First Class, Cardinale explained, is a town with more than 10,000 citizens and a suburban town is one with 25,000 residents. Riverhead is expected to build out at 40,000.

Cardinale says he is hoping to convince his colleagues on the town board, via proposed legislation, to vote to change the town's current designation to Suburban, per the state's definition.

The designation, said Cardinale, will give the town more freedom and alternatives.

If the town changes its designation to a Suburban town classification, Cardinale says it will no longer have to wait six months to obtain a speed limit change for a state road. The town board would also be permitted to appoint an assessor, as opposed to a town election for three assessors, and the town board would be able to hire commissioners of town departments, as opposed to employing department heads off the civic service list. "That alone," said Cardinale, "will make the departments more accountable."

In addition, the town could change the way it holds council seat elections. The town would be able to institute a ward system, as Brookhaven did in 2002, in which each council member would be elected from each hamlet of the town. For example, Jamesport could have its own representative, as could Calverton.

This is not something that taxpayers would want to do now, said Cardinale, but they may want to as the town grows. "It would be nice to have the option if necessary," he explained. The same, he said, goes for the other options available under a re-designation to Suburban town.

To change its designation, the town can act on its own by giving itself the new designation. "No action by the state is needed," Cardinale said.

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