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Sep 28, 2011 9:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Throne-Holst Proposes 20 To 30 Layoffs, Including Eight Police Officers

Sep 28, 2011 11:47 AM

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will propose laying off between 20 and 30 town employees—including eight police officers—as part of a tentative budget that she will unveil tomorrow, September 30.

The staff cuts are an attempt to close a projected nearly $5 million budget hole, due in part to a 2-percent tax levy cap mandated by New York State for the first time this year. The layoffs are expected to produce a savings of somewhere between $2 million and $2.5 million, she said on Tuesday night. The rest of the budget gap will be closed by utilizing a “million different things,” she said, including reworking the town’s worker’s compensation policy, not filling any currently vacant positions and reorganizing staff. While she didn’t disclose a final proposed budget figure for next year, it is expected to be less than this year’s $79.9 million spending plan.

“What I’m putting forward on Friday is my best suggestion for how put a sustainable and balanced budget out and that doesn’t raise taxes,” she said. “But again, that will be up for a lot of discussion, a lot of work sessions, public hearings … and I look forward to that.”

Ms. Throne-Holst did not specify which employees would face layoffs, but said they come from departments “across the board” at Town Hall. Approximately eight police officers are included in the overall figure. “Everyone has had to cut back,” she said.

At the same time, the Southampton Town Board adopted two retirement incentive measures on Tuesday that targets Town Hall employees and Town Police officers who are eligible to retire but who haven’t. Those taking advantage of the incentive would receive $1,000 for every year of service. The incentive is expected to cost the town a maximum of $800,000 if everyone who is eligible opts in, but would ultimately result in a savings, although officials did not estimate how much of one.

“Obviously the more people who opt into the retirement incentive, the more flexibility we have around not having to lay others off,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

The supervisor also said she’s hoping the town’s unions come to the table and reconsider their prior stances and allow for furloughs. Earlier this month, Civil Service Employee Association President Pete Collins said he wouldn’t sit down with the administration unless officials extended his union’s contract an additional year, to 2014. The contract calls for 2-percent annual raises. Ms. Throne-Holst said the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association asked for all concessions to be deferred to the future. Both are requests that the Town Board is not willing to oblige, she said. The Superior Officers Association, the union for higher ranking police officers, is expected to come back with some cost-cutting suggestions, she said.

“The unions are going to have to figure out whether they’ll see layoffs or some shared approach to dealing with constraints” she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst’s tentative budget utilizes a town measure that allows the municipality to force police officers who have served 20 years or more in the department to retire. She declined to name any of the officers.

A 2012 budget must be adopted by the Town Board by November 20, Ms. Throne-Holst said. A lot can happen between now and then, she emphasized. “There are still things that are going to change,” she said.

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