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Nov 18, 2016 1:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Adopts 2017 Budget, But Not Without Debate Over Key Parts Of Supervisor's Plan

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera at discuss the budget at Friday's meeting.  DANA SHAW
Nov 22, 2016 10:37 AM

A 3-2 vote along party lines on Friday approved the 2017 Southampton Town budget but also highlighted significant disagreement about key elements of the $94.7 million spending plan.

The Republican members of the Town Board, Christine Scalera and Stan Glinka, initially proposed a slate of changes that would have undone a great many changes at Town Hall that Supervisor Jay Schneiderman had built into the proposal. Ms. Scalera put forward an amendment, seconded by Mr. Glinka, to eliminate funding for the creation of a new Department of Housing and Community Development to work alongside the town’s Housing Authority, and also the creation of a new Department of Public Safety, including a new administrative position for Code Enforcement.

That amendment failed by the same 3-2 vote, with Mr. Schneiderman and Town Board members Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier voting it down. Later, with the budget approval, the funding for both changes was approved.

Prior to the final vote on the budget—which includes a 2-percent drop in the property tax rate, though spending is up about 4 percent—Ms. Scalera read a statement outlining her objections to the measures outlined in her amendments. She also took aim at another of Mr. Schneiderman’s proposals that won approval with the budget: plans for “longevity payments” of up to $4,000 next November for non-union salaried employees and most administrators—including the supervisor and Town Board members.

In her statement, Ms. Scalera suggested that the new budget is “putting at risk our AAA bond rating” by creating new positions at Town Hall that will have a growing impact on future budgets. “Increasing un-negotiated employee costs during and post-employment, longevity for elected officials and non-union members, un-needed created positions, and concern over revenue projections are just too great for me, in good conscience, to ignore.”

Mr. Schneiderman bristled at the suggestion and countered that it was a “strong budget,” and that the town was in “pretty strong fiscal shape,” with reserves about double what the ratings agencies require, so the bond rating wasn’t likely to change.

The debate also was over competing notions of the best way to improve the town’s code enforcement efforts in particular. The supervisor’s proposal, which was approved with the budget, will consolidate code enforcement, animal control, the fire marshal’s office and emergency preparedness into a newly created Department of Public Safety. The hiring of a new administrator, at a salary of $150,000, plus a clerk, will “significantly strengthen” the department by providing much needed coordination and leadership, Mr. Schneiderman said.

But Ms. Scalera and Mr. Glinka argued that the money could be better spent. “We only have seven code enforcement officers,” Mr. Glinka said, noting that he had just recently discussed the issue with Hampton Bays civic leaders. Of the supervisor’s plan, he said, “I just feel it’s a waste of money, and it’s not making good fiscal sense to have an administrator in place when we could use those monies to bring on another code enforcement officer in Hampton Bays, Flanders, Riverside or Northampton.”

The pair made similar arguments against the plan to create an Office of Housing and Community Development as a division of the Department of Land Management. The new office will take over elements of affordable housing from the town’s Housing Authority, and again will require the creation of a new administrative position at a cost of $150,000, plus a clerk. Ms. Scalera and Mr. Glinka suggested that if the plan was to bring elements “in house,” the town should eliminate spending for the Housing Authority altogether.

But Mr. Schneiderman said the two organizations would work together as a team, with the Housing Authority focusing on some elements, such as Section 8 housing, while the new office would work more aggressively on affordable housing. “I think there’s room for both—I do,” he said.

The 800-page budget includes hiring one police officer and one public safety dispatcher, and Town Board members hinted that more could be added in the coming year, depending on the requests of the new Town Police chief, Steven E. Skrynecki, who will start in January.

The hike in spending is offset by a jump in the overall assessed valuation of properties in the municipality, up to $60 billion from last year’s assessment of $55 billion, allowing a decrease in the tax rate.

The new “longevity payment” approved as part of the budget was pitched by the supervisor as a way to attract, and retain, good administrators by rewarding them for years of service. Salaried non-union town employees in Town Hall would be eligible—including the supervisor and Town Board members, along with the town comptroller, town clerk and town attorney, and various other administrators. The payments would be capped at $4,000 for an individual employee, would be based on the number of years in public service—not just at Town Hall—and would be made in November 2017. A total of 75 administrative employees will receive checks next November, with the cost estimated at $212,000.

Ms. Scalera, who last week labeled the proposal “a gift of public funds,” expressed alarm on Friday that the proposal—which was pitched as a one-time payment—is being added to the town’s employee handbook, suggesting that it could be an annual payment. Mr. Schneiderman acknowledged that it would be up to future Town Boards whether or not to approve the same payment in future years as well.

The effort to bolster salaries for non-union salaried employees goes back to the last Town Board when former Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst attempted to push forward a “salary matrix” in the 2015 budget. This would have created starting salaries for each position as well as pay increases for length of service and other factors specific to each position. This increase did not get included in the final 2015 budget.

Mr. Schneiderman introduced a similar longevity pay system in East Hampton when he was town supervisor in 2003. Non-union full-time town department heads and other salaried employees were given between $1,700 and $2,000 after the first five years of full-time service to the town, plus an additional $100 for every subsequent year. However, East Hampton Town elected officials do not receive longevity pay, as those in Southampton Town will.

With the budget’s approval, the supervisor struck a conciliatory note, acknowledging the 3-2 margin of approval: “These are changes that can be made next year,” he said of some of the proposals put forward by Ms. Scalera and Mr. Glinka. “It’s not set in stone.”

Staff writer Jen Newman contributed to this story.

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if you look at the budget the people benefiting most from the longevity are the supervisor, the Comprroller and staff in the supervisors office and they are the ones who crafted the budget. It's nice that the town taxpayers are footing the bill for their work in the county especially since the supervisor has only been working for the town for 11 months, what a joke. It would be nice if the union president showed her face and reminded the supervisor that her union staff only gets longevity for time ...more
By hamptons34 (30), Westhampton on Nov 18, 16 3:45 PM
I'm happy to see Ms Scalera seemingly preparing her run for the supervisors seat. We live in interesting times...
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Nov 18, 16 4:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
Couldn't agree more and she appears already well prepared!
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Nov 18, 16 5:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Then fill that room with it because she is certainly doing right by the tax payers that elected her and those that didn't! Go Ms. Scalera!
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Nov 19, 16 10:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Don't let that mass of blonde hair fool you, PeeWee. Pay attention to what she's saying and doing.

I think she's a keeper.

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 19, 16 11:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
She certainly likes your part of town, Frank. Its about time an honest politician mentions you guys.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 6:41 PM
Wait the Supervisor is just giving away tax money. Everybody in Town Hall is getting a check for just being there a while? I was on line in the building department for an eternity. Where's my check?
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Nov 19, 16 5:59 AM
Sorry to say , my voting for Jay was a mistake , one I will not make again! He is simply a spendthrift liberal with no place in our Town government!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 19, 16 7:06 AM
IBigfresh - can't agree with you more. We need to get behind anyone that runs against him.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 19, 16 7:46 AM
That's a "Spending Plan" alright. Any reference to it as a "budget" is wildly imprecise.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Nov 19, 16 8:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
Apparently the lessons of the recent election and voter discontent with business as usual has escaped the attention of the Town Board majority. "Longevity Payment" appears to me to be what most of us call a "pay raise". It will bolster pension payments, it will benefit time worked by some in the County or oh I don't know maybe East Hampton Town and Smithtown. It will mean some Board members will receive higher salaries than others, same for Town Justices I would guess.

Perhaps one of ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Nov 19, 16 4:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Neil, I wonder which new position ATH will get...

Maybe Honest Fred will get the other one?

If they bring them in now, think of the "Longevity Bonuses" they could get.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 7:58 AM
Giving Bloomberg and Shinnecock Golf Zclub a couple of private audiences ,
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 19, 16 6:43 PM
During the election, I warned that Jay was a Carpetbagger coming in to plunder our town. I implored everyone not to let this man run amok with our tax money.

During the special to replace drug dealing liberal Brad Bender I said Elect Yaz to make sure Jay, Julie & John don't have free reign to do what the wanted...

Like I told you, what I said... DON'T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR DAMON!
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 7:35 AM
Give it up Draggerman. Since Mr Yastremzki was elected to the in power party in 2008 the SHV budget was increased by 50% from $18 million dollars to $27 million. The taxpayers of Southampton Town can't afford him. If the repubs want an extra seat at the table in town hall they need to put forward a decent candidate and not a fiscally irresponsible political hack yes boy. Yastremzki makes Jay look like a choir boy.
Nov 20, 16 8:51 AM appended by bird
Don't mistake this as an endorsement of Jay. The democrats in town hall clearly didn't learn anything from the recent election. We the people can fix that next year.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Nov 20, 16 8:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Really, Bird?

If Yaz was on the Town council, we wouldn't have Jay running around lining his pockets and setting up his retirement from public office. His dedication to this town is dismal at best. Last year he did a"Drive By" at the annual Southampton Fire Department Awards Banquet & Inspection. Came for a drink. All of the other Supervisors in recent history came & presented longevity awards to the long term volunteers. Men & women that have gotten out of bed to help neighbors for 40+ ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 12:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
The true test for both Scalera and Glinka will be whether they refuse the "longevity payment". That would be the indicator to differentiate between adherence to principle or political grandstanding knowing there were already 3 votes for the pay increase.

That would, at least for me, show a major important distinction between the Republic and Independence/Democratic Party elected officials in Town.

Of course, I should add that the three affirmative votes for pay increases by any ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 4:58 PM
Yes, really. Yaz was part of the village government that increased spending by 50% over 7 years. Taxpayers of the town can't afford him. The republicans will have to do a lot better if they want another seat at the table. As for Jay, one term and out.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Nov 20, 16 5:04 PM
So, because Yaz is on a board, not the Mayor but a board member, you feel he isn't qualified for town hall. Interesting.

Southampton Village is in good financial shape. The Village looks great. Other than allowing some large "pharmacies" to replace all the grocery stores...

By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 6:12 PM
I would concur, Neil.

Since the bonus's will be coming out at election time for Scalera & Glinka (I believe Lofstad would be up then too?) it will show the voters what they're made of.

We knew Julie would follow Jay in any and every vote. Suspected Bouvier would as well. But to not be free thinking enough to see that this budget was political suicide? Ha!

And Bird, if you had voted for Yaz in the special, we wouldn't be hearing about this budget that smells as bad a ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 6:37 PM
I have to say Draggman, your evaluation of the town board may have a level of truth. However,I would say that Yaz has voted with mayor Epely 90% of the time. You are not looking at the hole picture.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Nov 20, 16 7:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
Ms.Scalera has been showing voters what she is made of the last 5 years and just earned another term handily voted in last year- so she is not up for three years. We can only hope she seeks higher office which may put her up to run against Mr. Schneiderman next year. I suspect that would be is his worst scenario. I would bet they don't take the money but take the money or not, the point is that neither John or Julie have any business sitting in those seats making decisions when they only allow Jay ...more
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Nov 20, 16 8:03 PM
"So, because Yaz is on a board, not the Mayor but a board member, you feel he isn't qualified for town hall. Interesting."

What i'm saying is that Yaz has shown no back bone and no fiscal restraint in his time in SHV and that the repubs need to run a better candidate. What do you think the chances are of finding another Scalera?
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Nov 21, 16 4:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
But we can afford the 3 Jays?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 27, 16 5:22 PM
Thank you Councilpersons Glinka and Scalera and shame on Bouvier and Lofstad. Monies that should go to the services for the taxpayers that fund the budget are instead going to a career politician for his personal benefit. Shame Shame Shame. Enough with this "3 J's" nonsense. You are both smarter than that.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 16 9:16 AM
The concern when Julie Loftead was elected was that her inexperience would cause her to follow Jay in lock step. Looks like that concern was justified.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Nov 20, 16 9:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
$4000 bonus, about 1900 hrs = about $2.10 raise.
Nice bonus JAY. The vote on party lines is getting out of hand. How about what is good for the town???
Good way for union busting, only non-union employees??? Wish I could vote MYSELF a raise...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Nov 20, 16 11:24 AM
very disappointed in JS,JB, JL. all will be one term politicians if they each take the bonus. us taxpayers are really tired of the give backs to the elected "elite".
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 20, 16 5:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
We're talking money, right? OK, then let's look at the bottom line. All this praise for the Republican board members' position, and yet the last GOP administration left the town with a $5 million deficit and a busted credit rating. Now we're in surplus with a AAA rating and a current budget proposing a 2% drop in the property tax rate. Really, what's not to like? Not a thing unless you're a Republican lackey. Stop the sniping and look at the facts.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 20, 16 7:55 PM
The facts are that it is because fiscal conservatives were in the majority including Ms. Scalera over the last several years because Ms. Throne-Holst was smart enough to be fiscally conservative while on the Board, if only for show. You're backing a loser in Jay Turkey and its too bad because your two Town Board members had such promise for many but they are following Jay down the rabbit hole and are a huge disappointment.
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Nov 20, 16 8:12 PM
Seriously TB, first you back ATH because of her strong fiscal skills, and now you throw her under the bus because it doesn't benefit Jay. It has become clear to me that Jay is out for Jay at all costs. He is so transparent as to his disdain for anyone that questions or disagrees with him. I am embarrassed for Julie and John - they look like deer in headlights at the Town board meetings when Jay is speaking. They are smarter than that - shame on them.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 16 8:45 PM
And do people realize, Scalera & Glinka voted with ATH and supported all the pro over development in this town.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Nov 20, 16 10:18 PM
I notice your silence and lack of opinion on the main points of the story George. Leave us forgive your incomplete history as to the deficit created two republican Supervisors ago during at least part ofwhich time if memory serves me well this was a Dem majority on the Board. And, of course, neglecting to mention it was his successor Republican Supervisor, Linda Kabot who was the first to set down the economic recovery later relied upon by the prior Independence Party Supervisor. But why hold ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Nov 23, 16 10:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Turkey, I figured you would chime in. I guess your over the shock of Election Day...

The issue here, in my opinion, isn't money per se. It's about a Supervisor setting up two new positions with assistants, most likely to be appointed to Dems who lost on Tuesday. (I'll apologize for this if it doesn't happen). It's about putting a bonus in the budget and wording it so that the supervisor that has only been in town hall for a year gets a "longevity bonus".. Its about a Carpetbagger plundering ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 21, 16 6:55 AM
Couldn't agree more - whether or not the positions are filled with those that lost on Election. The Town's budget has not kept up with the increase in activity on basic services. Jay represented that it would take "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to maintain Good Ground Park but it looks like there is zero. He has heard the pleas for additional code and law enforcement...and nothing. He is certainly proved himself not to be a man of his word (just a man of the word of the day). Julie and ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 16 7:25 AM
$2000 each year going into their retirement. B and L voted to give themselves a raise. B and L and jay have to go.
Like watching the village board vote, who will raise their hands with Mark???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Nov 21, 16 8:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
Southampton needs to drain their swamp
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Nov 27, 16 6:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
what does that mean?
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