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Oct 16, 2012 5:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sag Harbor Village Board Approves Police Retirement Incentive

Oct 17, 2012 10:21 AM

The Sag Harbor Village Board on Friday unanimously approved a retirement incentive program for eligible police officers, another step in its self-avowed quest to cut costs in the department.

Mayor Brian Gilbride and Village Trustees Ed Gregory, Robby Stein and Kevin Duchemin voted in favor of the package during a special meeting Friday afternoon. The incentive offers a lump-sum payment of $1,000 for each completed year of continuous full-time service as an incentive to retire.

It is open to Police Chief Thomas Fabiano as well as all full-time active Village Police officers who are eligible to retire on or before December 31 based on their retirement tiers, and who have served 10 or more years in the state’s police and firefighters retirement system. Mr. Gilbride said this week he believes the other eligible officers are the department’s two sergeants, Paul Fabiano and Thomas Pagano, as well as Officer Hugh Caulfield.

The eligible officers must notify the village of their intentions either way by November 30 and retire by December 31. Those who choose to take the offer also release the village of any claims, suits, grievances and similar complaints.

Mr. Gilbride said he has “no idea” how many officers might choose the incentive.

Chief Fabiano on Wednesday said he had not yet been approached with the incentive and so therefore could not say whether he might take it. Asked if it was something he would consider, the 35-year veteran replied, “Who knows. Sometimes it’s an offer you cannot refuse, but I doubt it, coming from this village. I truly enjoy my work and working for the people.”

He went on to lament that the issue arose from negotiations between the village and the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, to which he does not belong. He said he is tired of arguing at Village Board meetings and that decisions are made without anyone asking him for input. He suggested holding a vote for village residents to decide whether they want to keep their police force.

The department has 13 officers including its chief; that number will drop by one on October 31, when Officer Michael Gigante’s resignation takes effect. He is leaving to take a job with the Northport Village Police because he is unsure of his future with Sag Harbor. The village budgeted $113,811 for his total salary for 2012-13.

The mayor said he believes the force is overstaffed, particularly in the winter. “We’re giving serious consideration to laying people off come January,” Mr. Gilbride said. “That’s in an effort to get a handle on costs.” It costs the village about $182,000 per year for each officer, including benefits, he said.

The village is headed toward arbitration with its police union over a contract stalemate. PBA President Pat Milazzo said this week he would have the PBA attorneys review the incentive before commenting on it.

Sag Harbor Village has received and requested bids from the Suffolk County sheriff’s office, as well as the Southampton and East Hampton town police departments, about what it would cost for them to police the village alongside a reduced force of about six village officers. While Southampton Town’s is the lowest bid, at $720,694, Mr. Gilbride said this week that although he does not have a favorite candidate, he thinks the sheriff’s proposal offers the most protection and coverage for the most reasonable cost, $923,520. Sag Harbor recently sent all the bids to all the agencies so they can “sharpen their pencils as to their own proposals,” Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. said.

Mr. Gilbride said the village will distribute copies of the retirement incentive to eligible officers and set up a special meeting sometime in the next two weeks to continue a discussion of police costs.

The village built a new police headquarters in 2005 and 2006 at a cost of $2.4 million, according to Chief Fabiano.

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