East Hampton faces deficit; now do you believe in the recession?


East Hampton, NY, the Long Island community that serves as summer home to many Wall Street CEOs and East Coast old money, has joined the ranks of U.S. cities with gaping holes in their balance sheets. According to USA Today, the town is looking at a $12 million shortfall this year, pale in comparison to NYC's looming $2.3 billion deficit, but ill tidings for a town where excess is almost a birthright.

What to do? If East Hampton chooses to address the expense side of the ledger, dare it snip away from its airport, busy with the private shuttles of the rich and famous? The $710,000 annual bill to buy free YMCA memberships for its residents, or the 100 grand for subsidized day care? Perhaps the $300,000 spent to suck up leaves in the fall, lest residents be forced to bag them like the hoi poll. Or should it cut back on seeding mollusks on the shoreline, or pass on buying another $100 grand of sand rakes to keep the beaches tidy?

Apparently, the thought of increasing income (i.e., raising taxes or imposing fees) is unpalatable to the residents. but how about a bake sale? Surely a table-full of pastries flow in from Vienna would bring in some welcome funds. Or a car wash; you'd be amazed how sparkling a Bentley looks after being bathed in Perrier and waxed with ambergris. Perhaps a 5k race, with Olympic champions representing each household? Or a charity regatta.

Or it could follow the lead of thousands of other American towns and cut police, fire squads, animal shelters, and place some employees on unpaid leave. Riiiiight.