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Nov 10, 2010 11:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Department Heads Raise Issues With Preliminary 2011 Budget

Nov 10, 2010 11:40 AM

Fewer staffers, cuts in funding, and the reshuffling of some employees and departments, all included in Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s preliminary $82.1 million budget for 2011, were at the heart of concerns raised by department heads at a special Town Board work session on Monday.

Staffing—and the overall theme of doing more with less—was the most prominent concern highlighted by department heads throughout the meeting. The subject is of particular concern this year due to a state early retirement incentive; town officials are estimating that nearly 20 employees could take advantage of the program before the end of the year, and some of those vacant posts will be eliminated or moved to different departments.

Under the supervisor’s preliminary budget, town taxes would increase by 2.4 percent and overall spending would climb about $2.3 million over last year’s $79.8 million amended spending plan. Town officials have emphasized that the spending increase is needed to pay off deficits in the town’s waste management and beaches enterprise funds.

An argument erupted toward the end of Monday’s meeting concerning one of Ms. Throne-Holst’s proposed moves to take advantage of the state retirement incentive. She and Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer had a heated exchange over the pending retirement of James White, a waterways mechanic who heads the town’s waterways maintenance operations.

Under her preliminary plan, Ms. Throne-Holst no longer wants to fund Mr. White’s full-time salary, projected to be $71,000 next year. Instead, she is asking the Town Trustees to set aside up to $30,000 from their budget to pay Mr. White a part-time salary, according to Town Comptroller Tamara Wright. The change was made with the expectation that Mr. White, whose base salary is now $68,952, would retire before the end of the year, Ms. Throne-Holst said.

But Mr. Havemeyer said Mr. White has no plans to retire, suggesting that he is being forced to step down. Fellow Town Trustee Bill Pell then accused Ms. Throne-Holst of forcing Mr. White to choose between accepting retirement or facing the possibility that his position would be eliminated.

“This man is in his 60s,” Mr. Havemeyer said of Mr. White. “It’s the closest I’ve seen the man to tears.”

The supervisor denied the allegations and Ms. Wright, who said she was involved with the discussions, said they are not looking to force Mr. White’s hand. Instead, both said Mr. White had expressed an interest in taking advantage of the early retirement incentive, a message that had been conveyed to them by Town Trustee Jon Semlear.

In turn, Ms. Throne-Holst and Ms. Wright asked the Town Trustees to consider funding Mr. White’s position in 2011 if he decided to stay on, with the understanding that it would now be a part-time position.

The supervisor’s proposed restructuring also hits home in the Youth Bureau division within the Department of Human Services. Director of Human Services Bill Jones, along with Youth Bureau Director Nancy Lynott, asked the Town Board to reconsider a proposed move that would transfer Youth Bureau Assistant Director Tracy Kolsin to the youth program in the Parks and Recreation Department.

It was a discussion that dominated a public hearing on the budget that began last Thursday, November 4, and resumed on Monday. High school-age children who take advantage of Youth Bureau programs protested the move last week, and the consensus among them and Ms. Lynott was that the town’s programs would suffer in Mr. Kolsin’s absence.

Ms. Throne-Holst explained during both hearings that the move was designed to better serve youth programs as a whole, in both departments. “It was an attempt at seeing how we could offer better rounded services to all of the kids in our town,” she said on Monday.

In a November 2 memo addressed to Ms. Throne-Holst and the Town Board, Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer asked them to consider keeping a data entry operator position in her office intact. She wrote that the position, which has been vacant and left unfilled under the supervisor’s 2011 budget, is key to maintaining her department’s level of services at its two locations. The clerk’s office operates from Town Hall in Southampton and the town complex in Hampton Bays. Ms. Schermeyer also requested in her letter that the Town Board adjust other budgetary lines in the 2011 budget.

Town department heads also honed in on other reductions within their respective offices. Town Maintenance Supervisor Peter Gaudiello cited some lines that were reduced in the preliminary budget, including a cost for supplies and miscellaneous expenses, which he said will fall from $37,000 to about $30,000. He said that money pays for supplies in about 14 buildings maintained by his department.

Mr. Gaudiello also criticized Ms. Throne-Holst for her “discouraging” 2-percent increase in administrative salaries proposed for next year. He pointed out that, last year, the town’s administrative staff did not receive raises.

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Not all of those to be let go under Anna's budget freely wanted to "take advantage" of the state's early retirement incentive. Jump or get pushed was more like it. Worse, at least one person wasn't even on the state's list when told his job was ending. He wasn't eligible for the state retirement package, contrary to what has been said publicly, so couldn't take advantage of it. Disgraceful business.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 10, 10 11:13 PM
Welcome to the 21st century. There is no lifetime employment. There are no guarantees. There is no unlimited supply of funding. This has been true in private business for years, why should government be any different.

Now we just need to get to a "pay for performance" system with full accountability to reward those actually working and dump the deadwood. How many clerical positions are there now compared to twenty years ago before all the systems were computerized? There should be ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 17, 10 1:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Needless to say, the STPD PBA wholeheartedly supports the preliminary budget. No police officers will be terminated and all will retain their salary increases.

Way to go, Councilmembers! With your clothes on, nobody can tell that you have been neutered.

If Randy Alschuler wins, perhaps the Town can make use of his outsourcing expertise. I hear that the Gurkhas make terrific cops. We could use the savings to pay down the Town debt, give every employee a 10% raise - and a new ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 11, 10 11:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
sounds like highhat got another ticket!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 13, 10 8:31 PM
If employees are not eligible for state retirement and are being told his/her job was ending, THATS A LAYOFF. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst was not being truthful when she stated that no layoffs would take place or services cut. Where is the union rep Pete Collins? Why has he not spoken at the Work Session or TB Meeting in defense of any employee being laidoff? Is he hiding because he endorsed Anna. This is a disgrace.. Anna give the tax payers the truth not smoke and mirrors.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Nov 11, 10 6:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
Mr Collins is not speaking out because the facts are correct. Employees not being replaced are ALL eligible for the NYS Retirement Incentive. If you are to claim that the supervisor or anyone else is not being truthful, one should be certain of the facts.
By Viewpoint (26), Southampton on Nov 11, 10 6:53 PM
Did you read the article in the press? A heated argument took place on several issues. One employee position in the trustees office is NOT being funded. The employee is being forced into retirement. Is this what she meant by no layoffs? Just force people out into retirment so that it appears not to look like a layoff. If the supervisor is not funding this or any position, this is a layoff. She also stated when the budget was presented that no cut would take place. Well, according the article in ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Nov 12, 10 1:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
I am certain. I do claim the supervisor is being untruthful. She forced people to be laid off, and she knows it. So do a lot of other people. And, at least one person who's job the Supervisor ended was NOT originally on the NYS Retirement Incentive list. No one had bothered to check. It wasn't until a few good people went to bat for him that was he added to it. The truth, in this case, isn't pretty.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 12, 10 1:59 AM
Did I see that someone mentioned Pete Collins, he's totally useless, there's a union rep job that he milks so bad, he's always MIA from his real job. The only thing he's good for is changing the street bulbs, oh sorry even that job was taken away, so that shows everyone the limits of his talent. "Where in the world is Carm....I mean, Pete Collins...
By The Crow's Nest (65), Red Creek on Nov 12, 10 5:29 PM
Why not layoffs !! Riverhead and East Hampton made lay offs and have lowered their proposed spending for 2011. Southampton Town has alot of duplication of services partically in Land Management. This board needs to lower spending and lower taxes.
By Yearround Resident (23), Southampton on Nov 13, 10 12:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
What "duplication of services" do they have in Land Management? I'd love to know
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 13, 10 5:10 PM
Nature, take a closer look around Land Management. We are a second generation elecrtcial family from Southampton and there are Private Electrical Inspection Agencies around the County that provide outstanding services to other Towns and Villages. Lets compare; we wired a home in SHV two years ago, the permit fee was nearly 1500.00, it expired after 1 year, it cost another fee to renew it. It took weeks to call for an appointment as well. Private agencies that also inspect for East Hampton, Brookhaven, ...more
By Yearround Resident (23), Southampton on Nov 14, 10 6:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
That's not a duplication of service... that's a service you feel could be done by the private sector. While that may be true, civil service law prevents the town from laying off their electrical inspectors and farming it out to private consultants due to past practice. A duplication of service (in my opinion) means two people are doing the same job (or two departments are doing the same duties)
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 10 9:40 AM
Nature, Define it as you may. We can't afford it anymore. The rest of the COuntry is downsizing Goverment, why can't Southampton Town
By Yearround Resident (23), Southampton on Nov 15, 10 2:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
The reason is because they would be sued by Civil Service
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 10 3:47 PM
A "past practice" refers to numerous item that could be contained in a union contract, but for whatever reason, has never been put into words.
It does not refer to, and would not be a valid argument, if the town were to lay off the Electrical Inspectors.
One purpose of government is to do things that the public can't do for themselves. As noted above, there is a private sector very capable of performing these services, cheaper, more effective, and without being subsidized by the tax ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Nov 18, 10 2:30 PM
I believe the past practice is that the Town has utilized civil servants for electrical inspections. If they up and eliminate the department and hire outside contracts, they will be sued. Now, who will win the lawsuit is probably anyone's guess and in typical government fashion there would likely be every appeal possible. It's not in the Town's best interest to lay off the THREE (3!) people who do electrical inspections for the entire town AND the villages (through an agreement with the villages ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 19, 10 12:00 PM
You miss the point. Should the town lay off the electrical inspectors, homeowners, contractors, etc, would use the private sector to fulfill their inspection requirements for the town. The town would not be hiring anyone.
Manning and staffing is managements perogative. The union has no say if the town decides to eliminate a position. An "improper practice" would occur if the town then used a new hire at half the salary and called him/her a "wiring technician" and assigned him/her the duties ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Nov 19, 10 12:53 PM
Yearround Resident Southold it trying to get remove private electrical inspection agencies also we need to go out to the board meeting tuesday 11/30/2010 at 7:30
Nov 27, 10 9:20 AM appended by Wired
Yearround Resident Southold is trying to remove private electrical inspection agencies we need to go out to the board meeting tuesday 11/30/2010 at 7:30
By Wired (1), Brookhaven on Nov 27, 10 9:20 AM
The supervisor bragged when the budget was presented that no layoffs would take place and no cuts in services would happen. Now we learn that people were taken out of the budget and forced to take retirement, in an effort for it to appear that no one was laid off.
As a tax payer I am not opposed to layoffs but the supervisor mislead the public with her dishonest, sneaky tactics. As I said, Anna’s radio ads in the 2009 campaign were full of criticism of the previous supervisor’s budget. ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Nov 13, 10 11:31 PM
If a household has a decrease in income they spend less, if the decrease is extreme, they cut out non-essentials and make do with what they earn. Why should our EMPLOYEES not be subject to the same thing? Town government has to make do wit less, cut positions and non-essential services and live within your means, please. Government doesn't exist to provide JOBS, just essential services.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 14, 10 9:52 AM

Well said big fresh. This whole problem of the near doubling of the Town Budget during the last decade of excessive spending under Skip Heaney's financial financial maladministration from roughly over $40 Million to $82 Million is the legacy we are fighting today.

For once a spending budget becomes entrenched, it is extremely difficult to correct without massive spending cuts and layoffs which is what is happening all over NY State and Long Island! Even as Throne Holst's budget attempts ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Nov 14, 10 12:03 PM
To "Highhat" - the police budget deserves not to be touched. We need everyone of these highly qualified people. It really is too bad they didn't get at least a token raise for their service to the community.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Nov 14, 10 11:16 AM
You got to be kidding me! Our police are way over compensated for what they do in our location. Time for all the excess to stop within all our local and federal branches of government.
By c'mon now (46), southampton on Nov 14, 10 11:44 AM
2 members liked this comment
According to "Terry", on another thread, they DID get another raise, albeit neither the Town Council nor the STPD PBA has seen fit to tell us how much. Go figure.

At $150K/yr. (before overtime) their remuneration MIGHT be appropriate for Beverly Hills but. . . Southampton Town?

Not to mention the fact that the overwhelming majority of their incident reports are DWIs. (Funnily enough, the STPD actually has a SWAT team! Last called out in response to an unarmed man alone in a ...more
Nov 14, 10 1:15 PM appended by highhatsize
THIS JUST IN!! STPD busts hookers in Riverside! Woooeeee! If that isn't front page news (3"CAPS), what is? Our cops yield to none in their expertise and zeal in controlling drunk drivers, recreational drug USERS, and hookers in Riverside. (Let's hope their standards of proof for the latter two crimes haven't been affected by those for the former.)
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 14, 10 1:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
And... these guys were able to charge $30 per visit...which included candy! What would the cost have been if we left this "job" to our govt workers, or police unions.

I do hope those girls have health insurance and a pension plan!
By c'mon now (46), southampton on Nov 14, 10 8:44 PM
QUOTE: "We need everyone of these highly qualified people."

Why? What for? How have they manifested their qualifications? In light of what they DO do, could we not get the same performance, or better, cheaper? (The same rational process that Randy Atschuler went through that led to him creating Asian Tiger?)
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 15, 10 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
That information is public. But if you were to obtain it, you would no longer have a soap box to stand on, I guess.
I think you would be OK if, when you FOIL the info, you make sure to wear a tin foil hat. That way the evil forces of Town Hall won't be able to get into your brain housing area and plant a micro chip.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Nov 18, 10 2:35 PM
Bullshit...they are overcompensated
By 11968shlocal (22), southampton on Nov 18, 10 9:41 PM
to Terry:

What a splendid idea! When I file the FOIL, I will include my automobile license plate number on the application for the convenience of the STPD.

On the other hand, some might argue that the ACTUAL pay of the most expensive department in Town government by several orders of magnitude is pertinent information that the Town Council should release in order for voters to have the information at hand necessary to judge their management ability at election time.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 19, 10 12:24 PM
You continue to make allegations that you would be "hunted" should you proceed in this manner.
News flash: You're here on Long Island in the year 2010, you're not "one of them there hippie looking types" trying to register voters in 1964 Mississippi.
Put your tin foil hat on now.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Nov 19, 10 1:00 PM
What a charmingly disingenuous comment!

One must ask oneself if the STPD cops who are on video record of insulting and intimidating the Southampton Supervisor and Town Council when they threatened their income, are capable of, for instance, setting up a phony DWI bust on a citizen who does the same.

One would think that said Supervisor's subsequent DWI bust would inform opinions on that question.

Her acquittal will authoritatively answer it.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 20, 10 12:23 AM
I can not say it enough. High ranking experienced officers deserve what they make, plus overtime pay.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Nov 14, 10 3:53 PM
Unfortunately, none of us knows HOW much they make, just AT LEAST how much they make. Their true salaries have never been made public. With Ms. STPD 2010 as Supervisor, they never will be disclosed.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 14, 10 7:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
why? shouldn't that be public info?
By 11968shlocal (22), southampton on Nov 18, 10 9:45 PM
Everytime we get a tax increase, it should include the salaries (and pensions) of the officials we are supporting...plus their years in the current position. We should get a complete rundown before we vote on school budgets, offices.... etc.
By 11968shlocal (22), southampton on Nov 18, 10 9:48 PM
OK, impeach Throne-Holst! Reg rep for Supervisor! You heard it here first. Reg rep can see 2011 from her house. Hey reg rep, how's that nasty vindictive stuff workin for ya?
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Nov 14, 10 4:16 PM
Besides Town Hall and the Police Dept. town workers dont make that much money for living on the east end. Friend of mine makes 36k at an entry level job for the town ....not exactly breaking the bank. I know other guys that have been there for 20- 30 years making 45-50k, so when you say town employees make way to much money, specify which ones.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Nov 15, 10 5:28 PM
I say lay them all off - cut back our huge police force that could patrol a borough of the city alone they are so big, yet they cant solve crimes but they are good at writting parking tickets, Cut the parks dept in 1/2, cut the fire marshals office in 1/2 cut the code enforcement to 2 persons as we dont have the share houses anymore for the most part. Charge special events for police prescence, cut back to 2 judges, cut the highway dept in half considering that the pot holes from before last winter ...more
By fetupwithSHT (16), Hampton Bays on Nov 16, 10 3:38 AM
3 members liked this comment
Why should we have such difficulty with this...get rid of what is not needed and trim the budgets...cmon....fundamental yet everyone is worried about getting rid of police and teachers .....bullshit!! Why should they be held by different standards than the rest of the business world? Why allow huge teacher pensions (most of the school budget goes to pensions and salaries not our children) and huge police pensions and budgets....we are all fools to think this is because of their abilities...Social ...more
By 11968shlocal (22), southampton on Nov 19, 10 1:10 AM
Why did we add a fourth judge?
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Nov 17, 10 6:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
We DIDN'T need a fourth judge, but that judge needed a job since he wasn't going to be able to continue his County job!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 19, 10 12:45 AM
That is quite a statement!
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Nov 20, 10 8:35 PM
......and that judges term ends next year. Perhaps now would a good time to eliminate the position and save the town money.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Nov 20, 10 9:21 PM