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Nov 23, 2012 5:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Hires Two More Cops, Sacks Planner And Grants Coordinator In Final Budget

Nov 28, 2012 10:07 AM

In a series of sweeping, last-minute changes, the Southampton Town Board cut $350,000 in spending from Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s original proposed spending plan last week prior to adopting a $82.45 million budget for 2013.

The amended plan, which was adopted on November 20, also added funding for two new police officers and a full-time traffic control officer to the town’s short-handed police department. The savings and new police jobs came with a price tag—namely, the cutting of two positions funded in the supervisor’s original budget and the $260,000 in salaries and benefits those employees would have earned. The amendments also cut another $150,000 by eliminating an initial spending proposal to create two new positions at Town Hall.

Despite the savings, the final approved budget of $82.45 million does not change the proposed tax levy presented under Ms. Throne-Holst’s original $82.7 million spending plan. The tax levy, which totals $57.8 million, and the tax rate passed on to residents will remain flat from the 2012 budget. In addition to the new savings, the board helped balance the budget by using reserve funds used to keep taxes down, taking that fund’s balance down from $1.55 million to $1.2 million.

The amendments, most of which were offered with the support of both Ms. Throne-Holst and the Town Board’s three-member Republican-Conservative majority, restored funding for several positions that had been eliminated in the supervisor’s original proposal.

In the final budget, which was unanimously approved despite some objections from Democratic Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, Assistant Planning and Development Administrator Freda Eisenberg and Grant Coordinator Karen Johnson will have their positions eliminated.

“It’s regretful that Freda is not included in this budget, but it frees up funds to restructure the Land Management Department a little bit and, in the end, we all came to that agreement,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. She had supported Ms. Eisenberg being hired as the planning and development administrator to replace Jefferson Murphree before the board majority successfully pressed for the hiring of Kyle Collins to fill the post.

“In terms of the grants coordinator … we don’t have the same volume of grants we once had,” the supervisor added. “The federal, state and county governments aren’t putting out the kinds of grants they used to. It’s a different animal today, and it’s something we can use existing staff for.”

Ms. Fleming was the only board member to oppose the elimination of Ms. Johnson’s position, and she criticized the decision by her colleagues, saying that having someone in the grant coordinators position would allow the town to more aggressively seek grants from the state and county for things like water quality improvement projects. Department staff will not have the time necessary to seek out those grants, she said.

“I think that is clearly an example of short-sighted budgeting,” said Ms. Fleming, who voted in favor of eliminating Ms. Eisenberg’s position. “The grant money is out there, and ... we need an aggressive presence at the table. I’m very disappointed to see this particular position eliminated.”

The supervisor said that grant application work will be picked up by staff in the individual town departments that are seeking grants.

“This is a huge component of how we operate here,” Ms. Throne-Holst said at last week’s budget meeting. “It is part of an exercise we’ve undergone in the last few years of looking at where we can reorganize and optimize for efficiencies, and that is one of the big reasons we’ve managed to budget the way we have over the last couple years.”

The budget also eliminates Ms. Throne-Holst’s proposal to create a new Purchasing Department, which would oversee and manage all town purchases. It was a position that Ms. Throne-Holst had said would lead to increased efficiency and reduced waste that would justify the $150,000 in salary and benefits for a director and a dedicated secretary.

Another $50,000 was cut from the budget by adjusting the salary of the vacant town assessor’s position, which is not expected to be filled until later in the year.

“We had to make some difficult decisions,” Ms. Throne-Holst said last week about the adopted budget. “What we did was increase public safety, and we are meeting, most importantly, some of the outstanding needs of the Flanders district. We’re beefing up the [police] unit that will be on patrol there.”

The two new police officers, the supervisor said in a separate interview, will allow the town to expand the department’s Community Response Unit, a neighborhood patrol detail, and the department’s overall presence in Flanders and Riverside. The two new officers will earn base salaries of $53,000 per year and receive about $39,000 in benefits.

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What a surprise! Hike the police budget by $400,000. No problem!

Check the great editorial this week in the Press about "the rudderless nature of the town and its police department."

The next election is not that far away, thankfully.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 23, 12 5:14 PM
What exactly do you foresee -- in a perfect Town, of course -- happening during the 2013 election
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 24, 12 2:09 PM
Anna loves cutting things, but she is hell bent on spending 3 million to dredge sand on to the beach. Why does she want to do this and spends so much time on it? A little checking of political contributers to her campaign will give you the answer. Her main contributer was Smith and Wolensky. Yes this is a chain of steak houses, and you are asking why they are interested in her campaign. With a little digging I found that Alan Stillman is the founder of s&w and also is the main proponent of rebuilding ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 23, 12 6:28 PM
2 members liked this comment
Chief, you need to keep looking at the contributor lists. You will start to see a real pattern. I've referred to the specifics in earlier posts. Keep in mind that the Suoervisor is a member of the Independence Party. The game is not restricted to Dems and Reps. You might recall the Supervisor already had to return some contributions that were over the campaign finance law limits. There is nothing quite so sad as one who claims to be a reformer playing politics as usual. It remains a game of ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Nov 23, 12 8:05 PM
NTiger and Chief1, you're both taking the low road on this ATH contributions thing -- low and careless with the facts. Let me explain:

Chief1, you speak of ATH "spending 3 million" on "a 20 million dollar project." That's about how I recall the ratio between the small portion the Town was to spend and the large balance ($17 million by your figures) being picked up by the affected oceanfront property owners, including Stillman, through a special taxing district. This was to reflect the ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 27, 12 6:50 AM
Please MR Turkey Bridge do you think Stillman made a donation, because he wants ATH to eat at his steak house? Don't be so naive he donated, and he got her ear to pitch his idea. Let these people pay the whole tab, and leave us out of it. What would happen if we did this dredge work and all the sand dissapeared? Do you think these people would still pay every year? Or would they start a suit, and say the job was done incorrectly with the town holding the bill? The town has no right doing a joint ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 27, 12 12:20 PM
Once again, chief1, your own words show the weakness of your position. You say Stillman's donation to ATH "got her ear to pitch his idea." What's wrong with that, as long as the private owners pay their fair share? The liability-down-the-road thing is a separate issue, just like my objection that renourishment won't last, but it's not pay to play. There's still no evidence to connect the PBA's support with the Wilson appointment, and NTiger is all wrong to make accusations without backup, and ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 28, 12 3:55 PM
Bye Bye to Freda! Just another example of clueless ATH. What was the point of keeping her around for SOOOO long? The woman worked out of her Manhattan Apartment more than she worked out of the office. That's not a joke nor an exaggeration... commuting out east two-three times a week for $95,000. Tough gig if you can get it... I think she'll be alright without the patronage job.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 23, 12 9:12 PM
3 members liked this comment
What a stupid time to get rid of your grants person. With millions that will be sought in federal and state aid from the storm (and that aid is akin to grant reimbursements) and the need to meticulously document, complete reimbursement requests, make applications, etc. to make sure the town gets all the aide it can, why would you dump the person most experienced in doing that? One screw up on a FEMA aid/grant reimbursement could cost the town hundreds of thousands.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Nov 23, 12 10:55 PM
2 members liked this comment
Perhaps it depends on whether or not the grants person is actually doing that. Yes, if they are performing their duties well and getting lots of grants - keep them. If not, doesn't make sense.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Nov 24, 12 6:37 PM
Before the Council decided to give the STPD another $$400K, it would have been nice if it had described to its constituency the department's current state of readiness, being that it's chief recently resigned abruptly under suspicious circumstances, that it is still under investigation by the county (state[?], federal[?]) government for improper (criminal[?]) behavior, and that an STPD lieutenant charged with twenty counts of misconduct was just reinstated.

Am I alone in feeling that ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 23, 12 11:16 PM
Maybe there is some logic behind it that isn't apparent at first glance, but sacking the grants coordinator seems like a very short sighted idea that is likely to cost the town in the long run more than it saves.

Who will devote time to that job in the future? Or will the Town not seek grants?
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Nov 24, 12 9:24 AM
What has she done for us lately? This should be pretty easy math. During Karen Johnson's employ how much in grants has she secured that wasn't automatically created? Is there an estimate of grant money not received that could have been if proper applications were submitted? How much has she received in pay and benefits during her tenure? Pay for performance, not patronage.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 24, 12 10:24 AM
3 members liked this comment
It's very funny how ATH is asking for tens of millions from FEMA. Besides waterfront areas we had very little damage to the area. The second home market waterfront did get hit but why should Fema help second home owner? This country has very limited resources and the money should go to New Jersey, Western Long Island and low lying areas of NYC. The town even wants the feds to pay for dredging in Sagaponak, building up the roadway on Dune Rd in Quoque, and even the cost of the leave pick up campaign. ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 25, 12 11:42 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hundreds of signs? There are a few that require permits, that's about all. You've never been there, have you?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 25, 12 2:34 PM
If it was pay for performance you would fire three quarters of town hall. Most of the employees and vendors are supporters and friend of people in town hall. Not to mention the police dept and Hwy dept. with their load of buddies picking officers, and hwy employees. Mr Tiger is correct you will see patterns by who contributes and who benefits. When people say you can change things by your vote they are full of crap. The next guy you vote in has a differant name, but the same game. Its pretty hopeless.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 24, 12 11:31 PM
Did I read correctly? PD at 53K and 39K in benefits?? TC at 42K and 21K in benefits? Where do I apply and whose a do I have to Kiss?
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 25, 12 4:42 PM
Did I read correctly? PD at 53K and 39K in benefits?? TC at 42K and 21K in benefits? Where do I apply and whose a do I have to Kiss?
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 25, 12 4:44 PM
53k and 42k aren't that much $$$ - especially for a job where you put your life at risk (more so with the police position than the traffic control position). The benefits are for medical/vacation/pension etc. It's not like the employee sees that $$$ in their bank account. Btw, that $42k/year is a whopping $20/hour... big deal

And you apply when you take the civil service test - as long as you meet the requirements. Cop jobs aren't patronage jobs... score the highest on the test and ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 12 6:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
to Nature:

According to the Town Police Payroll chart, starting officers receive $99,267 annually in salary and benefits. So they're at $$100K in year one. In four years, they'll be at $137,600. In ten, they can break $$200K, all before overtime ($$850K + last year) is added in.

For this munificent salary, they hand out traffic (& illegal swimming) citations, bust drunk drivers, and intimidate the Town Council which emulates the "Three Wise Monkeys" in its oversight of the department.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 25, 12 7:48 PM
Ughh... HHS I should have known you would be lurking.

You cannot equate benefits with salary - the person is not taking home $100k in the first year and we all know this. But you like to add the numbers together to make it sound ridiculous...

And they do a lot more than hand out traffic tickets, but again you want to ignore that. Who do you think was working during the hurricane and was called upon to rescue people too foolish to leave their homes? Who puts their lives at risk ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 12 8:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
That $$100K is a first year cost to the Town. How many other new employees without a four-year college diploma or experience are handed that package?

Perhaps the once-in-a-blue-moon emergencies in which the STPD must participate should be factored into their compensation, but it still doesn't approach being worth $$100K/yr.

Before an STPD cop was "menaced" by a disturbed individual carrying a knife earlier this year, their most recent "life-threatening" event involved one of their ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 25, 12 9:30 PM
"Umbrage" and "duplicity" in the same sentence!! Bravo HHH !! Thats gotta be worth a 1000 points
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 25, 12 9:38 PM
Highhat - you acuse me of being "misleading" and giving "incorrect information" about the STPD (please tell me what's incorrect that I have said... I only post facts and you know this) and yet you continue to try and get others on your bandwagon through use of subterfuge.

Yes, $100k is the cost to the Town for the first year - but it's not the same as the employee EARNING $100,000/year. And I'd be willing to bet that at least 1/3 of Town Hall "costs" the Town $100k/year and they aren't ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 12 12:16 PM
Oh, and btw - if you are truly against over-compensation in the Town and that is your only actual gripe (we all know it's not) then why haven't you been screaming for the 5 years that Freda Eisenberg has been an employee of the Town earning $95k/year (PLUS benefits) all while spending the MAJORITY of her time working from her manhattan apartment. I'd pay a rookie cop $200k/year before I pay a planner 100k to work FROM HOME.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 12 12:21 PM
Nature you are out of your mind. First off the medium income around here is around 55k a year. How about that as a salary for the cops? The job is less dangerous than a construction worker per the state workers comp dept so don't tell me about danger. Do you see a problem with people collecting a pension at 42 years old? There are thousands that would take this job at far less and have passed the exam with higher scores. The SHPD doesn't take the best score they don't have to. Not to mention most ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 26, 12 2:35 PM
Chief - what does your tax bill say for fire department taxes and for EMT taxes? What does it say for police taxes? Funny how the FD and EMTS are volunteers and yet cost so much! If you cut the police dept. salaries in half, how much would that save you as a taxpayer?

Even if they are working 190 days/year (back that up with facts please) their shifts aren't glamorous. Night shifts, double shifts, working in inclement weather (like hurricanes and blizzards), dealing with drunk drivers ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 12 2:55 PM
Also is this the best time to get rid of a grant writer when there will be plenty of Fed $ and state $ for the takiing? Don't know if the current grant writer is any good but a GOOD grant writer should be bringing in mucho bucks for the town.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 25, 12 4:46 PM
What's the chance that the rumors of Chief Wilson pulling his retirement papers come true, especially since the budget has passed?
By vaquero (12), Watermill on Nov 25, 12 5:12 PM
Its not a rumor, he will be in Hauppague tomorrow pulling them...what are you going to do now Nuzzi?
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 12 8:01 PM
I believe this as much as Tenaglia was an effective leader, Kiernan isn't guilty and the Town Board has the taxpayers best interest in mind
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 25, 12 10:16 PM
If Chief Wilson returns, the first thing he can do is explain why he decided to wait 11 days to release the name and photo of the man who ran down Sister Jackie Walsh, and left her to die on the side of the road in Water Mill almost FIVE months ago.

An update on the status of this case would be appreciated.

Does the suspect's employer (and owner of the hit-and-run vehicle) have any relationship with any members of the Town Board, including the Supervisor?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 25, 12 8:54 PM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 25, 12 8:55 PM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 25, 12 8:57 PM
It was not the Chief's call to make whether the photo was released or not.
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 12 9:19 PM
Technically, you may be right. The 7/25 article reports:

"Chief Wilson said this week that the decision to withhold that information was a joint decision by multiple agencies—one he supported."

Note "joint decision" . . . "he supported."

As the highest SHT person in this decision-making process, he owes the public an explanation at this point about the reasons for withholding the photo and ID for 11 days IMO, and what went wrong in the pursuit of the suspect.

Did ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 25, 12 9:36 PM
The only way Chief Wilson will return is if the DA delivers on its investigation. Then and only then, will politics be ridden from this police department.
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Nov 25, 12 10:33 PM
PS -- have we reached "the end of time?"

From the 7/19/12 article:

"“We will follow the trail on this guy until the end of time,” Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. said. “We’re never going to stop going after him.”

December 9th will mark the fifth month of the investigation, not exactly "the end of time" perhaps, but maybe a good time for an update before this failed investigation sours the holiday spirit?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 26, 12 5:39 AM
FWIW...Nibiru is closing in on us
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Nov 26, 12 2:26 PM
to Nature:

Quote: "You have previously admitted that you are anti-police in part because you had a bad experience with them umpteen years ago and you cannot let go of that bias."

You really HAVE lost all connection to reality where your apologies for the STPD are concerned. This most recent response of yours lies thrice-over.

1) I am NOT anti-police and NEVER have so admitted.
2) I have NEVER had a bad experience with the police that involved more than being pulled ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 26, 12 4:47 PM
The reform was happening with Wilson, however the town board made it so difficult for him he left. They now will be empowering people (Pearce, Kiernan) that are from the old ways.... Let the corruption continue and the only crooks that we can thank for that is the town board and the DA's office unless they actually come in and do something from the "ongoing investigation"
By mrobin (121), North Sea on Nov 26, 12 6:38 PM
HHS: On September 2, 2012 @ 1:20 AM you stated:

"Many years ago, when I was very, very, VERY young, I was stopped in RIverhead for making a left hand turn on a red light. It was actually yellow and I was determined to fight it. I did some research and found that, at that time, case law required that the cop citing you had to be able to see the light that YOU saw. He couldn't park in such a was as to see the light for cross-traffic and deduce that if it was green for him, then it was red ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 12 7:10 PM
And I'll say again. HHS's problem with the STPD is his personal vendetta against the police or any police. When your wife is in a supervisor position and gets arrested for driving drunk, I'm sure her reputation becomes poor and effects her spouse as well. HHS gets angry when people show up at town hall to save their jobs and families while the reign of his wife is still on. Meanwhile HHS is a tenured teacher who makes more than these police. Low crime rate? Then what, Brooklyn? Sure. Do you even ...more
By khan (36), hampton bays on Nov 26, 12 7:18 PM
to Nature:

In my letter file I have two thank-you letters from a precinct captain and the Chief of Police of a major American city that I visited a few years ago. I had written the precinct captain to congratulate him on the exemplary performance that I had observed of several officers under his command. I mention this as refutation of your charge that HATE the police. I do wonder, however, whether I would have written the letter had I not been startled by seeing real, professional cops ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 27, 12 2:42 AM
HH - the $42k figure is for traffic safety - not starting police officers. I know it's hard for you to follow all of these numbers, but please try and keep up.

Cops do receive the same benefits as the white collar members of the union - you think those pushing papers in Town Hall aren't receiving "stupendous" amounts of benefits? Only difference is they get to retire earlier - but aren't YOU the one who always whines that cops DON'T retire early enough? I seem to remember you harping ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 27, 12 10:34 AM
to Nature:

Quote: "And i'll reiterate that the other first responders CANNOT cite somoene for a violation of TOWN code. The Coast Guard can't write you a ticket for not picking up your dog waste - why would they be able to write you a ticket for swimming a channel if it's only a Town law?"

I will give you the benefit of the doubt and accuse you of disingenuousness. The Coast Guard, the Suffolk Country Police and the Bay Constable all have their own "codes" and statutory authority ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 27, 12 1:39 PM
As far as this dispute between HHH and nature- Nature is correct in that police officers deserve to be compensated for the potential danger faced everyday, the shift work, etc. Studies have also shown that PO's have an increased rate of heart disease and divorce due to stress.

However HHH has a point re the escalating salaries of our town and county departments which have historically been the highest paid in the nation. This is a result of contract negs between Nassau and Suff counties ...more
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 26, 12 6:54 PM
Sig - thanks for weighing in. For the record, I don't recall ever supporting increasing wages for Police or arguing that they deserved to be the most highly paid officers in the country. I do however continually defend the fact that;

a) they work an extremely dangerous job (even in the bucolic hamptons) which should allow them increased compensation over their desk jockey counterparts in local government

b) the impact on one's tax bill is so minimal for the services that are ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 26, 12 7:15 PM
If the cops don't like their jobs they can always quit. We can replace them in 24 hours with no problem.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 27, 12 12:21 PM
My suggestion would be a starting salary of $55,000 rising to $75,000 after 7 years of service, with officers paying 15-20% of health insurance costs. I believe this is similar to what NYPD and LAPD officers make. Most towm employees pay some of their benefits costs; the SHT PD pays nothing.

Again, I am not denigrating this department or its officers, however as a taxpayer working two jobs struggling to put food on my table I can no longer condone a small town police force ...more
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 28, 12 7:10 AM
NYPD tops out at 92000 without longevity or overtime and they do not pay into medical. Top out is at 5 years. Off of a NYPD website.
By khan (36), hampton bays on Dec 1, 12 2:23 PM
I just looked at an NYPD salary website which says that after 5 years the total pay is $69,005 INCLUDING night differential, holiday pay, uniform pay, and longevity, but not overtime. It looked like a variety of medical plans, some of the lower benefit ones, for single officers only, are paid, family coverage requires the officer pay into it
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Dec 1, 12 6:11 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By khan (36), hampton bays on Dec 4, 12 12:25 AM
that is the site i looked at- i copied it right to the post- 69,005 plus the things listed. where did u get 92,000 from?? The medical info was from a another site that said something like " a variety of medical plans some of which are fully paid depending on level of service and number of dependants"

So- I slid the shield and got 69K, you slid it and got 92K- hmm . Must be something wrong with my computer.
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Dec 4, 12 7:05 AM
I dont know why i was removed? If you go yo NYPD recruit salary and benefit overview. Just slide the shield all the way to the right. Thats only at 5.5 years
By khan (36), hampton bays on Dec 5, 12 9:08 AM
if the police dep tis STPD ..then the Fire Department must be STFD .. hee hee
By david h (405), southampton on Nov 27, 12 12:31 PM
Funny how they are concerned about covering the cost of a grants analyst or adding police coverage, yet they are willing to give a $10,000 raise to the Comptroller who has been on the job less than a year. Nobody sees something wrong here??
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 12 5:36 PM