East Hampton town supervisor resigns

October 6, 2009 2:58:46 PM PDT
It's one of the world's most famous playgrounds for the rich and famous. But in spite of all the trappings of wealth, East Hampton is in big money trouble.

"Somebody's head should roll over this. It's a lot of money. It's mind-boggling," one resident said.

The town's elected supervisor, William McGintee, suddenly resigned from office on Monday. His budget director, Ted Hults, is under indictment for fraud, charged with misappropriating funds and driving the town into financial ruin.

"It was really nothing more than simple mismanagement," State Assemblyman Fred Thiele said.

Thiele represents the Hamptons in Albany. He is trying to make sense of it all.

According to a recent report from the State Comptroller's Office, the town managed to fritter away almost 18 million dollars in the year before the recession.

That turned a surplus of 6.9 million into a deficit of 10.8 million.

In the year since then, Thiele says the deficit has ballooned even more, to as much as 20 million.

"I think it points out that incompetence knows no boundaries in terms of socioeconomic status or reputation," Thiele said.

No one is accusing McGintee or Hults of enriching themselves personally. They are accused of blatant mismanagement, spending lavishly on town projects they simply couldn't afford, and then pillaging other taxpayer accounts to foot the bill.

No one came to the door at McGintee's home today, but his executive assistant, Lynn Ryan, insists he did nothing wrong.

"We've redid North Main Street. We've done museums. We've finished the Montauk Playhouse," she said.

When I asked if a lot of taxpayer money was spent when it didn't exist, she said that's partially true.

Now to balance the budget, the town's wealthy residents are facing a five percent tax hike and that's just for starters.

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