The Town Board is expected to vote Tuesday night on appointing a political consultant to Supervisor Sean Walter to the position of legislative secretary, a job with Riverhead Town that would pay $65,000 through March of 2013.
The position would require assisting the town board in marketing and lobbying for the town's 2,4000-acre property at Enterprise Park at Calverton.
Walter has been and working with state elected officials to create an inter-governmental body to streamline applications at EPCAL, rather than sending potential developers through application processes at local, county, and state levels. This legislative secretary role would work toward passing that legislation, and preparing the property for development - at least until the position expires on March 31, 2013.
Anthony Coates has served as a consultant to Walter since August of 2010, generally receiving $1,000 each month from the supervisor's campaign funds, according to reports with the State Board of Elections.
Should Coates earn the job, which includes fully paid health, dental and vision benefits, it would include a number of duties, including lobbying on behalf of the town in Albany, contacting potential investors, and monitoring the activity of planning firms the town has retained to do planning work at EPCAL.
Walter declined to comment on the measure Tuesday afternoon.
"This is like having the girls' basketball team in before the event to congratulate them before winning the county championship. So I’m going to hold my comments until after the meeting and we’ll see what happens," he said.
Town Financial Administrator Bill Rothaar said he was unsure how the position would be paid, should the town board approve it.
"If it passes we'll have to find money in the budget somewhere," he said. "I still haven't had that conversation with the supervisor."
Coates, who recently took a trip up to Albany recently with Walter and Deputy Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti and spoke with town board members at a work session upon his return, said his past suits him well for the position. Coates said he has experience in the financial sector - working as a senior investment officer for Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney and other firms - as well as the public affairs realm - going as far back as working for Presiding Officer Floyd Linton in the late 1970s.
"Just lobbying in Albany would be a small portion of this position," Coates said Tuesday afternoon. "It really would be to make the land attractive and marketable, and get it to the point where developers would know what the property is before them.
Coates recognized that some may consider his appointment "political," but after all, he said, that's the game the town is playing to try and get its legislation passed.
"Have I been associated with the supervisor? Absolutely," Coates said. "But that makes me a known commodity. I'm someone the town board can trust rather than a nameless, faceless lobbyist where they are one of a few hundred clients ... We are going to a political body to try and get legislation passed. Ultimately it is helpful to have a political background."
The board is expected to vote on the appointment at Tuesday's board meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.