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Oct 26, 2011 11:52 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Police Union May Sue Over Forced Layoffs

Oct 26, 2011 12:28 PM

The police union representing senior officers in Southampton Town told the Town Board at a budget hearing on Tuesday they’ll sue if the two entities cannot come to an agreement on the forced retirements of six of the union’s members in Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s 2012 $80.2 million preliminary budget.

Michael McClellan, the attorney representing the Superior Officers Association, told the board, the union would be willing to look at alternative cost-cutting measures that would save the jobs of six police officers, who will be forced to retire next year under a provision that allows the town to eliminate officers who have 20 years or more of service in exchange for increased pension contributions for those officers by the town.

“The SOA is steadfast and unrelenting in their belief that these dedicated officers who for family reasons need to continue to work should be able to do so and that no member of the SOA should be involuntarily terminated,” he said. “Furthermore, I’m compelled to inform you that if we cannot reach an agreement we will be forced to litigate this ancient, arbitrary, capricious and in our mind, this discriminatory provision.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said she’s looking forward to sitting down with union officials to discuss the matter on Friday.

Also at the hearing, members of the Civil Service Employee Association union and employees of the town’s Human Services Department spoke out against 29 layoffs proposed in the supervisor’s budget. “Layoffs are not the answer, said John Mulvaney, a groundskeeper for the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, who is among those slated to lose their jobs.

Several individuals also pleaded with the Town Board to keep the Youth Bureau separate from Parks and Recreation. The two are proposed to merge under Ms. Throne-Holst’s budget. In that merger, the positions of Nancy C. Lynott, the director of the Youth Bureau, and Bill Jones, director of Human Services, would be axed. Residents also asked the board to reinstate Ms. Lynott’s position.

Police Overtime Questioned

A measure to pay for $225,000 of police overtime that exceeds the department’s current budget prompted questions and discussion by Town Board members.

Councilman Chris Nuzzi asked for a discussion on the resolution, which was brought to the board by Supervisor Throne-Holst. The recommendation came from Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. to cover anticipated overtime costs through October 31. The $225,000 figure, prepared by Town Comptroller Tamara Wright, represents her estimates as to how much overtime the department will incur up until October 31.

Mr. Nuzzi said he wanted the chief to explain the measure, and noted that department overtime has increased since 2008. He also said he was concerned about how much overtime the department would need for the rest of the year. “There’s, I think, an explanation to what has caused these increases,” he said.

Town Board members agreed a discussion with the chief was necessary. The board unanimously voted to pay $175,000 in overtime, which covers immediate payroll costs.

Hiring Freeze Extended

The Town Board voted to extend a townwide hiring freeze next year.

The measure, sponsored by Mr. Nuzzi, has been in effect since 2008 and has saved the town nearly $3.5 million since its inception, according to a press release prepared by the Town Council office.

“The freeze has helped keep the town in a fiscally solid position by significantly reducing the biggest portion of our budget,” Mr. Nuzzi stated in the release. “When an employee leaves the town, they don’t get replaced. Instead, their duties are shared by remaining employees to avoid overtime expenses or the costs of a new hire.”

Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming cast the sole no vote, and said that the hiring freeze hasn’t stopped the town from hiring. She said there’s “a lot of wiggle room” within the legislation.

Approval For Sailing Group

After more than a year of public input, a contentious proposal to restart a sailing club at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill got a unanimous green light from the Town Board.

The board voted to approve a measure to authorize the supervisor to execute a license agreement with Mecox Sailing Association Inc. The nonprofit group, led by Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield, would create a venue on town-owned property where children and adults could learn how to sail small Sunfish sailboats. Under the Mecox Bay Civic Association, some neighbors have organized to oppose the plan.

Mr. Mansfield said the Town Board’s approval is “bittersweet” since his group and the town are now fighting the neighbors in court.

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“When an employee leaves the town, they don’t get replaced. Instead, their duties are shared by remaining employees to avoid overtime expenses or the costs of a new hire.”

How does giving someone addional work avoid overtime? Wouldn't that create overtime?
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on Oct 26, 11 12:57 PM
"Hiring freeze"?? Typical Nuzzi nonsense. They make exceptions right and left -- mostly right, to hire Republican wardheelers like Kratoville, the Riverhead guy from OTB they're paying 150K a year to head up a "management services" dept. that's really a rest home for old hacks. What a joke!

Fleming's got it right, the freeze is a fraud, hasn't stopped hiring, and is just political smoke and mirrors. They'll try to make her look bad for voting No, but it's really more thaw than freeze, ...more
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Oct 26, 11 2:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
You got it, clam pie. Perfect summation of typical republican b s
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Oct 26, 11 2:08 PM
As inevitably as night follows day, the SOA has threatened to file suit if the Town retires some cops. While the historical response of the Town Council is to fold when threatened with a legal challenge, the most cost-effective strategy in this case would be to persevere to a judicial determination. Manifesting determination herein will forestall future actions by organized special interest groups who perceive (correctly, to date) that the Council will yield before any challenge if the specter ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 26, 11 2:49 PM
I agree the hiring freeze is a joke. But the dems are just as guilty here the republicans just have the best example!
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Oct 26, 11 4:18 PM
Though I appreciate all the times there "was a cop there when I needed them", GET OFF YOUR HIGH ****** HORSES, AND TAKE A PAY CUT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
Oct 30, 11 7:44 PM appended by Mr. Z
Mars is worth a mining FORTUNE. However, tunneling it will cost one HELL of a lame (sic) suit...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 26, 11 7:44 PM
Well, finally some light on the layoffs, a lawsuit! More un-necessary money of the taxpayers to be spent and the results will be the same, MANAGEMENT can not manage. The part that has not been printed is that the SOA has the federal gov't behind them, age discrimination, you can not layoff, or terminate these supervisory officers duye to their age. Also, did the NYS Retirement system authorize the early buy out option? If they did not, once again, the taxpayers are going to pay for the extra ...more
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Oct 26, 11 9:23 PM
I see that someone has already raised the implicit threat of the cops' suit. To wit, you're going to spend all this money and lose. Needless to say, I disagree.

However, even if that WERE the ultimate outcome, it would be worth persevering in this case if only to find out if we CAN rein in p.d. salaries within the current structure.

Within a decade, overstaying cops will be taking in about $$250K/yr on average. If we cannot compel cops to retire at 20 years, as the Town Code ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 28, 11 10:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
How about the Police Unions rather than spending $$$ on a lawsuit use that money to offer concessions or offset any concessions so that way people don't have to be forced retired!
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Oct 29, 11 1:56 PM
They have made concessions. However, this site chooses to only post the negative information instead of the whole truth. Guess they gotta sell newspapers and that's what sells.
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on Oct 31, 11 10:06 PM
HHS - where on earth did you get $250k?
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on Oct 31, 11 10:07 PM