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Jun 16, 2009 8:00 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Board asks employees for cooperation on personnel cuts

Jun 16, 2009 8:00 PM

When East Hampton Town employees opened their paychecks last Friday, they found two letters. One warned them of impending personnel cuts and the other was a personal letter from Councilwoman Julia Prince asking them to contact her if they had any concerns as the town works its way through the current budget and leadership crisis.

The first letter was crafted by the town’s labor attorney and sent on behalf of the whole Town Board.

“Since personnel costs constitute approximately 70 percent of the town’s operating budget, there is no other feasible way at this time to balance the budget without some savings in personnel costs,” said the letter.

Those savings would likely come in the form of early retirement, furloughs, lagging payrolls and foregoing of scheduled pay increases, according to the letter.

Suffolk County, which is trying to close its own budget gap, this month instituted a voluntary “lag payroll” program in which its workers agree to forego 10 percent of their wages for 10 weeks. The money would be paid back when they leave their jobs with the county. A similar plan is being considered by East Hampton.

Ms. Prince, however, said that she is most interested in offering early retirement to town workers. She said that between 30 and 50 of the town’s 550-plus employees would be eligible for early retirement.

“This is obviously a difficult time in the history of East Hampton,” Ms. 
Prince wrote. “I want every single employee of this town to know that I am here for you and my door is open to everyone, and I will return calls.”

“My concern is making sure the employees are not feeling completely alone. I’m technically in their situation too,” she said on Friday. “I don’t want to see layoffs either.”

Any of the alternatives to layoffs would require negotiations with the town’s Police Benevolent Association and its Civil Service Employees of America union.

Union president John “J.J.” Kremm said last week that employees were walking on eggshells wondering if they will lose 
their jobs. He said that he is still awaiting the result of arbitration, which were due on Monday, June 15, between the 
town and the union over the CSEA’s rejection last fall of the town’s new 
Empire Plan health care, which was instituted at the beginning of this year 
against employees’ objections.

Town Clerk Fred Overton said this week that the entire workforce is on pins and needles wondering if they will lose their jobs.

“The morale has been very low,” he said. “The next couple of years are going to be tough.”

“We also understand that in the current economic climate, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for many displaced employees to obtain other employment, let alone employment that provides health insurance and retiree benefits,” the board’s letter stated. “We all share the common goal of providing quality services to the public in a cost effective manner, and in protecting our employees, to the extent possible, from layoffs and their effect on our personnel and their families.”

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Hmm who thinks the town board will take that pay cut? Very sad, make the everyday guy pay while the big wigs carry on with life. Southampton town is next!
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Jun 16, 09 12:41 PM