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Nov 16, 2011 11:12 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Poised To Adopt 2012 Budget On Friday

Nov 16, 2011 11:36 AM

The Southampton Town Board approved a number of amendments to Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s preliminary 2012 budget on Tuesday without much argument—save for an attempt by Councilman Jim Malone to retool proposed forced retirements in the Town Police Department.

At a board meeting Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Malone offered a competing version to a cost-cutting measure in Ms. Throne-Holst’s $80.2 million budget that would force six senior and high-ranking Southampton Town Police officers—members of the Superior Officers Association labor union—to retire next year, utilizing a town law that allows the Town Board to retire officers who have served for 20 years or more. The supervisor’s budget also depends on the voluntary retirements of two other high-ranking officers in the same union.

Mr. Malone proposed a measure that would still reduce the number of police officers by eight but would draw evenly from both police unions—four from the Superior Officers Association and four from the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association. He noted that since four SOA members have already voluntarily retired, as well as one PBA member, the board would need to force only three more PBA officers to retire—unless they voluntarily retired first. Town Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville noted Wednesday morning, however, that only three SOA members have filed for retirement.

Republicans in recent months had criticized Ms. Throne-Holst for targeting only SOA members for political reasons. Mr. Malone said he was concerned about a possible “brain drain” of the department’s most experienced officers, particularly because Police Chief William Wilson Jr., who was appointed in May, is so new to the job. And, he added, he hopes that if the plan was expanded to the PBA, the three remaining officers might choose to retire voluntarily instead of being forced to, noting that a total of five officers—four from the SOA and one from the PBA—with 20 years or more of service have already filed their retirement papers.

“I believe that having the extra assets at the superior officers level is a tremendous, tremendous benefit to the chief of police,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m hoping this will actually be reversed as we get to Friday, that other people who are in a position to retire may have been thinking about whether they should retire or not … this might encourage some of that.

“I’m hopeful that we will get to a point over the next two or three days where we don’t have to do that,” he added, referring to the forced retirements.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Ms. Throne-Holst blocked the proposal from being introduced, claiming they had no notice that it was coming and that they didn’t know the specific impacts of the proposal. The resolution will appear on the agenda of a Town Board meeting scheduled for Friday—the day the budget is expected to be adopted.

On Wednesday, Ms. Throne-Holst said she was “taken aback” by Mr. Malone’s resolution, saying that it “mirrored what happened last year,” referring to a flurry of last-minute budget amendments proposed by the Republican-Conservative majority. She said she would have liked a heads-up on the police resolution, but she also acknowledged that on the whole, board members have been working well together this year.

“The other [amendments] we had discussed,” she said. “And, again, I felt great that we had reached a point of working well together, and, again, we agreed to disagree, some of us on some things and others and other things, and the process is what it’s supposed to be.”

The board also approved a number of budget amendments that dealt largely with both unexpected and planned retirements and staffing changes in a number of departments, including the Assessors Office, Fire Prevention, Justice Court, Parks and Recreation and others.

Town officials expected only six people to opt in to a retirement incentive program, but approximately 19 have taken advantage of it, according to Ms. Throne-Holst. That will most likely cut down on the nearly 14 layoffs planned for next year.

Board members were split on some of the amendments introduced on Wednesday. Ms. Fleming and Ms. Throne-Holst voted against some resolutions sponsored by Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Councilwoman Nancy Graboski relating to the Community Preservation Fund. Ms. Throne-Holst’s budget included increases for two top managers in the department; Manager Mary Wilson would have seen a salary increase from $88,740 to $102,000 and Senior Administrative Assistant Adline Auffant would have received a raise from $52,540 to $57,000. But the Republican sponsored amendments brought those salaries down to $90,515 for Ms. Wilson and $53,854 for Ms. Auffant. Also, an $18,000 position for an environmental aide for the department, budgeted under Ms. Throne-Holst, was eliminated in a resolution sponsored jointly by Ms. Graboski and Mr. Nuzzi. Ms. Fleming abstained from that vote.

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Over 100 years ago civil service laws were created because elected officials were using police departments for retaliation against thier opposition. Hiring and firing done by test score and senority. By Malone only trying to force the retirement of PBA members ( the union that supported ATH ) he is sending a clear message to police officers. Next election, put a "Bill Hughes" sign on your lawn, ticket anybody with a Democrat bumper sticker, and send a $$ donation or you will be out of a job next ...more
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Nov 16, 11 12:28 PM
For the nieve, many of the elected actually are ordered to hire and fire from Mondello in Albany. I know people in politics. You do what you are told, or else. So, an independent like Nancy Graboski, or an ATH, or LK, are despised
by the big time manipulators. Nancy has just been replaced by one of the puppets.
By kelbas (30), Southampton on Nov 17, 11 7:28 PM