The Sag Harbor Village Board, despite protests by trustee Kevin Duchemin, has decided not to move forward with a grant application that would provide funding to the Sag Harbor Village Police Department for an entry level employee — an effort police chief Tom Fabiano hoped would save the job of officer David Driscoll.
Driscoll, named Sag Harbor Village Police’s 2012 Officer of the Year for his work with the East End DWI Task Force, was officially let go from his position as a part of the 2013-2014 budget on Saturday, June 1 — a day that also marked two years officers in the department have been working without a contract.
During its end of fiscal year meeting on Wednesday, May 29, Duchemin asked the board about the state of a grant Chief Fabiano was exploring with the village’s grant writer that could provide funding to aid the department.
With the departure of Driscoll — a layoff made as the board explored its 2013-2014 budget — and officer Michael Gigante, who left the department last fall and whose position was not filled through attrition, the police force has 10 full time officers and the chief to provide police services to the two-square-mile village.
On Wednesday, Chief Fabiano told the board he was informed by the village’s grant writer that the board would not pursue the grant.
Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride who has led the board during a contentious contract negotiation with the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) said the $125,000 grant would be spread over a three-year period. The first year of the grant, he said, would award the village $41,000 for salary and benefits. However, the cost to the village to come up with the remaining funding to keep Officer Driscoll, or an entry level officer, he said, would be too great for the village to commit to.
“So that is what stopped it,” he said. “It meant over a three year period we would have put in about half a million dollars for just over $100,000. So, was I going to commit to that — no.”
“Even with Tommy’s give backs,” asked Duchemin, referring to Chief Fabiano.
According to Chief Fabiano, at the close of the fiscal year he accounts for a $90,000 surplus from his department, in part, due to Officer Gigante leaving the village police force.
As a result, Duchemin asked the board to reconsider the grant.
“But why are we going forward if we don’t have the money for it,” asked trustee Robby Stein.
When Duchemin pointed to the department’s surplus, Gilbride noted that money is transferred at the end of the year into the general fund.
“Can’t it be earmarked for this,” asked Duchemin, adding at the very least the board could consider keeping Officer Driscoll on through the end of the year with the surplus money.
Mayor Gilbride said he has yet to see accounting for this money and that it would be weeks before the books in the village are truly closed. Chief Fabiano said he felt comfortable with the accounting.
Mayor Gilbride said that at $125,000 over three years, if the village looked at funding a position like Officer Driscoll’s, for around $170,000 including benefits would translate into over half a million dollars out of the village’s budget. He added his reading of the grant calls for an entry level officer and the village’s labor attorney has said they cannot hire Officer Driscoll back at that level. Even at entry level, said Mayor Gilbride, the village would be looking at a cost of $200,000 to $300,000 over the grant.
“If it’s after June 18, Sandra can make up her mind and take it from there,” joked Mayor Gilbride, referring to former village clerk Sandra Schroeder, a candidate for mayoral elections held in two week’s time.
Chief Fabiano asked if the board would consider his request for a part time officer, noting he could offer that position to Officer Driscoll.
Mayor Gilbride said that issue would be discussed at the board’s meet on June 11 at 6 p.m.