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Town Board Unanimously Adopts Budget With Flat Tax Levy

Hiring freeze policy stays in place.

The Southampton Town property tax levy will remain flat for the third consecutive year under a spending plan the Town Board adopted Tuesday.

After passing a number of amendments co-sponsored by Republican Town Council members Chris Nuzzi and Christine Preston Scalera, Conservative Councilman Jim Malone, and Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member, the board unanimously adopted the revised version of the provisional budget that Throne-Holst originally crafted.

"The four of us worked hard and jointly to both trim additional moneys from appropriated fund balance, and most importantly, to better support the public safety and the police department budget," Throne-Holst said.

The amendments trimmed nearly $350,000 from the proposed budget.

While most amendments passed 5-0, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat, cast votes against a resolution to eliminate the position of grants coordinator and a resolution to decrease the budgeted salary of the civil engineer and secretarial assistant in the engineer division.

In statement from the Town Council office, Malone pointed out that amendments restore two police officers to the 2013 budget, reinstate two traffic control specialists and promote an officer to the rank of sergeant.

“These changes will enable the police department to establish a second Community Response Unit team which will enhance the department’s ability to increase police presence where necessary, and reduce overtime spending,” Malone said.

Throne-Holst said the second unit "will be directed mostly to covering the Flanders-Riverside area."

Amendments also reversed the plan to change the position of director of SEA-TV, the government access cable station, from full-time to part-time.

Fleming once again cast the sole dissenting vote on a hiring freeze renewed annually.

"If this really means what it says, I don't believe it allows the flexibility that governance needs in order to look toward the longterm health of the town," she said.

According to a statement from the Town Council office, the freeze was implemented in 2009 to limit new hires among non-emergency personnel and, as a result, there has been a net decrease of 74 employees, bringing the town’s payroll to 480 full-time employees, down from 554 in 2008.

Nuzzi, who sponsors the freeze, said in the same statement that “extending it into next year will allow Southampton to keep saving taxpayer dollars on expensive salary, pension, and medical costs, while building on reorganizational efforts, which have made town government more efficient and more effective with less employees.”

free wheeling November 22, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Before cutting a secretary's salary, how about the Board voting itself a decrease and how about a renewed look at all those town cars that are bestowed on the favored which include gas, insurance and maintenance and which they keep over weekends.
Brendan J. O'Reilly (Editor) November 22, 2012 at 03:43 PM
This story has been updated to reflect that Supervisor Throne-Holst co-sponsored the budget amendments.
Gramps Pupany November 22, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Time for a change to this GOP dominated board. They ran a good cop out of town on flimsy half-baked, sensationalized stories, while they covered up their own stupidity and back-room manipulating of the matter through their patronage man ($150k/year) who does NOTHING FOR TAXPAYERS.
Stinker November 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Do not be mislead. Your taxes will be going up. They are not flat, and they will be going up significantly. To think that anyone is touting trimming a paltry $350,000 from a budget that includes the payroll, benefits and alarming waste of almost 500 employees should be offensive to any person paying attention. This team of rank amateurs is hoping you forgot the massive deficit this Town is running while they provide less and less services for those that actually pay the taxes. No comment is what you will get when you ask about progress the Town is making on enforcement of its illegal tenant laws, on its party rental laws and other obligations it possesses.
Hazel Wilkonson the First November 23, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Remember that the board members are paid something like $70grand each to show up every once in a while for their part time jobs. That number is ripe for trimming.
Brad Bender November 24, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Electing those who truly wish to serve the public would be a better idea, so that the people get their moneys worth. A Councilperson makes $60,000 and pays a portion of the health care premium.
highhatsize November 24, 2012 at 06:33 AM
Nice to see that Councilwoman Fleming has voted on her own for the first time rather than just going in the direction that Anna Thone-Holst pointed her. Perhaps her recent loss to Senator LaValle taught her something. The true cost of the STPD will become known as the awards from lawsuits filed by victims of the Street Crimes Unit become due. In the meantime, it is foolish to expand the funding and manpower of a force whose fitness is suspect until the investigations into its malfeasance are complete. An update from the Town Council on the status of those investigations (and the circumstances surrounding the chief's resignation and Lieut. Kiernan's reinstatement) would be appreciated. They must have forgotten.

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