The planned forced retirements of senior police officers have been averted — for now, at least — thanks to an agreement with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association that keeps the jobs intact in exchange for union givebacks.
Under the terms of a memorandum of agreement, members of the PBA will collectively give up $330,000 worth of holiday time in 2012, sacrificing their pay for 10 of their 13 days off, and three police officers will keep their jobs.
Putting three senior officers back into the 2012 budget comes at a cost of $568,416, according to Town Comptroller Tamara Wright. After the PBA givebacks, the Town Board still has to find savings of $238,416 to avoid an increase in the budget, she said.
Councilman Jim Malone, C-Hampton Bays, spearheaded a move to have the PBA share in the pain of the proposed forced retirements, while Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, I-Noyac, had proposed in her 2012 budget that only members of the Superior Officers Association, a separate union for the department’s top brass, would be affected.
Malone said during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting that the resolution to the matter meets the economic restraints of a challenging time without compromising the safety of the community.
“We went through a very difficult budget process this year, as we did the year before,” Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “The police fund needed $1.7 million in savings to stay within the goal of a 0 percent increase budget.”
Throne-Holst’s original budget plan called for eight police officers to retire. A captain and lieutenant had planned to retire anyway, but the remaining six would be forced into retirement under a provision of state law that allows the Southampton Town Board to “separate from service” police officers with 20 or more years on the force under their belts. Throne-Holst made the cut off 25 years, in her budget.
To encourage police officers and other town workers to retire willfully, .
Two sergeants and a patrol officer took the town up on the offer, still leaving three senior members of the department to be forced out if an alternative method to cut police costs could not be worked out.
“This shuts the door — for now, at least — on this chapter,” Throne-Holst said. She noted that the PBA contract will be renegotiated at the end of the year.