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Town Board Sets Aside $25K for Hiring Incentives

H.I.R.E. fund offers local employers $1,000 to create a new job, but councilwoman questions effectiveness.

The Southampton Town Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to establish a $25,000 fund that offers local employers rebates for each new job they create, with one councilwoman not sold on the plan.

Councilman Jim Malone, C-Hampton Bays, introduced the resolution establishing the Hiring Incentive Rebate for Employers, or H.I.R.E. fund. He said the resolution was the first component of the plan, which would be worked out over the next year. Malone could not win over Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, D-Noyac, who questioned the effectiveness of such a plan, and said spending $25,000 outside town hall after numerous employees and others had earlier in Tuesday's meeting .

Malone envisions that a small panel, including the town comptroller, general services director and deputy supervisor, will begin to hear applications for the cash incentive in October or November 2012. He said he will also seek to offer greater incentives for hiring Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

"As we've see over these past two, three years, the increasing cost of providing health care, increasing cost of fuel, the increasing costs of running a business have just become overwhelming and it's stymied small businesses from reaching out and taking the risk of hiring another individual, especially a full-time individual."

Fleming said she wanted empirical evidence of such a program's effectiveness before voting on it.

"My concern is that earlier this evening, we had a room full of people begging us not to eliminate certain positions, and we're talking about $25,000, which could be more than half of a position that was discussed," Fleming said. "And these are good positions that are at town hall and do provide services and they're loyal employees. So, for me, I haven't heard anywhere near enough about this program and its merits to say this kind of money should be dedicated outside of town hall when we have folks here whose jobs we'd like to save."

But Malone said that compared to half a job, he is reaching toward the creation of 25 private sector jobs. "A budget is a platform of priorities ... and it's a question of putting our efforts in a direction of economic stimulus," he said.

A $1,000 rebate can offset increasing costs, like the MTA payroll tax and health insurance, Malone said. "I think it's a worthwhile investment and its tenfold return." He compared it to town investments in groups that promote Southampton. "This is just one more compenent of the arsenel that we should be presenting to try to push back these economic frustrations."

"It's a message worth making," Malone said.

But Fleming countered, "I'm just not willing to send that message to the good folks who were in the room today."

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, I-Sag Harbor, suggested, and Malone embraced, the idea of incentivizing businesses to hire town employees who are laid off. The legislative intent of the bill was unanimously amended to encourage hiring laid off town employees and veterans.

Malone said another parameter for his plan is that the newly created job does not need to be filled by the same employee for the whole year to qualify for the incentive. "I'd hate to think that we would be encouraging a small business to keep an employee on who just wasn't performing," he said.

Malone said the $25,000 would come from the town's fund balance, and not out of money budgeted for salaries. He said he'll also look for grant money in the future, and is hoping to increase the size of the fund to $50,000 in 2013.

According to the resolution's financial impact section, on top of $25,000 being moved from the general fund balance to the H.I.R.E. fund, the 2012 tax levy will increase $25,000.

Bob Schepps October 29, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Mr Malone you evoked Ronald Reagan in one of your campaign debates so let me evoke him also. The seven words you never want to hear...."Its the Gov't we're here to help". Can't believe that a democrat is defending the free market against a republican. How bout you get out of our way and let business do what we do. That would create jobs. Not some top down central planning for what you consider "good" jobs. Your JOB is to insure a level playing field for business and residential conserns not infect the market with subsidies that only inflate the cost everything they touch. Mr. Malone is it Reagan or Kennedy I voted for???
Mary Beth October 30, 2011 at 05:22 AM
The free market is a lie. Corporations profits have gone through the roof as they lay off more and more employees.
Mark Wilson October 31, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Government can't create jobs. This is another "hand out" to illegal aliens and public employee unions in exchange for votes. In turn the public employee unions "kickback" to the pols, in this case Malone. For Progressives Indentured servitude (SLAVERY) to Government, is the aim of these socalled "job creation programs".
Lenny Brand October 31, 2011 at 11:16 PM
when mr. malone ran for town council, I thought he was going to give up his job with the county??? What happened, he is rarely at town hall, so in my mind double dipping, he must be making at least $160,000. Mr. Malone how about you give back some of your salary because you definitely don't deserve it.
Jerry Can October 31, 2011 at 11:24 PM
This money would have been much better used in hiring seasonal help to do the leaf pick up. That's the issue that is most important to residential tax payers and not see their hard earned tax money being spent to subsidize a private business. Vote Malone out next election. He's a liberal populist wannabee.

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