Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association"

Sag Harbor Village Budget Continues to Propose Cuts to Police Department

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Despite impassioned pleas by Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, last week the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees rolled out a tentative budget last week that cuts the police department to 10 officers.

If the budget is adopted in its current form, the department’s newest hire — officer David Driscoll, named 2012 Officer of the Year — will be let go.

The village board has proposed an $8,263,381 budget for its general fund for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, a 2.57 percent increase of the 2012-2013 adopted budget, which falls below the allowable 4.1 percent spending increase under the state mandated two percent property tax levy cap.

The tax rate under the budget, per $1,000 of assessed value, is set at 2.830, a 3.89 percent increase over last year. Village treasurer Eileen Touhy estimates a house valued at $795,000 in Sag Harbor Village would pay $2,249.85 in village taxes, a 0.0389 increase or $84.27.

At a public hearing last Wednesday and again at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board meeting, Fabiano implored the board to reconsider reducing his department. The Sag Harbor Village Police Department has already lost one officer to attrition — officer Michael Gigante, who left the department last year in the midst of an ongoing contract negotiation between the village and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association.

That contract is currently in arbitration. Officers in the department have been working without a contract for nearly two years.

Under the tentative budget, the department is budgeted for $1,659,795 for 2013-2014, a 15 percent decrease over last year’s budget.

Last Wednesday, Fabiano said he was willing to freeze his entire budget to save Driscoll’s position and believed there was savings from the current fiscal year with Gigante’s departure. According to a budget worksheet, in 2012-2013, the Sag Harbor Village Police Department was budgeted for $1,963,040, but is estimated to have spent just $1,522,399.62 as of April 3.

The majority of cuts in the 2013-2014 budget are found in reductions to full time police staff. That line item has been cut by $249,976 in the proposed budget, down to $1,166,910.

“The problem we have is there is continuing escalating costs in both medical, insurance and retirement,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not your fault, it’s not our fault, it’s also not the fault of the non-police employees, because that cost is going up as well.”

The state tax cap makes it even more difficult, he said.

Fabiano noted the village board could vote to pierce the tax cap.

Gilbride replied that the village is setting aside over $500,000 to cover retirement costs for next year, and with no raises the total compensation cost for the police department has risen by 21 percent.

“What I am looking to do is find a lump of money and say here, this makes it good,” said Fabiano, noting he was originally told $185,000 was needed to save Driscoll’s position, and believes he could find about $150,000. Part of that could be found in savings from 2012-2013 — $1,522.399 of $1,963,040 has been spent to date.

Gilbride said he believes 10 officers and the chief would provide adequate police coverage for the village, and that part time officers and overtime could be implemented to cover any holes in the schedule.

However, Fabiano said his part time and overtime budgets are already stretched thin.

On Tuesday night, he implored the board to again reconsider their position. Driscoll was seated with the chief to watch as his future with Sag Harbor was debated.

“I am aware of the economic times we are in, but that should never interfere with adequate police coverage,” said Fabiano.

He added that not a single member of the village board nor the mayor has asked his opinion as a department head what losing another officer will do to the police department and its ability to service the community.

“I wonder how you can make an informed decision without this,” said Fabiano.

Fabiano said he does not believe 10 officers and the chief will be able to provide adequate coverage to the businesses, community members and school children. He added that ensuring two men are on patrol for all shifts – a practice implemented for safety reasons and for the protection of the community – would be difficult to achieve.

Two independent studies, completed by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, noted Fabiano, have said the village police department is understaffed as it currently stands.

Those studies have also recommended that the village’s detective – now Jeffrey Proctor – be largely freed of patrol duties so he can focus on active investigations.

“That police force has been fantastic for our village in so many different aspects you cannot weigh them by just their costs,” said Wharf Shop owner Nada Barry.

Driscoll’s fate is not yet sealed. The village board did not vote on adopting the budget at its Tuesday night meeting, as expected. Gilbride said the board would host a special meeting to adopt the budget, which must be done before May 1.

Tentative Sag Harbor Village Budget Stays Under Tax Cap, Cuts a Cop

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Last Wednesday, March 20, the Sag Harbor Village Board presented its tentative budget of $8,263,381 — a spending plan that falls under the state mandated two percent tax cap, but reduces the police force by eliminating one officer through attrition and another through layoffs.

The budget also proposes not replacing a laborer position in the department of public works.

The tentative 2013-2014 budget represents a 2.57 percent increase over this year’s $8.06 million budget. Treasurer Eileen Tuohy said state mandated tax levy cap for Sag Harbor is 4.1 percent.

According to Mayor Brian Gilbride, the village will use $65,000 of $1 million in reserves to offset the tax increase.

According to a budget worksheet, a house assessed at $795,000 would pay $2,220.44 in village property taxes, compared with $2,165.58 last year.

Gilbride and trustee Ed Gregory both noted a majority of the spending increases are directly linked to rises in health care costs and retirement benefits.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano sharply criticized cuts to his department via a letter read by trustee Kevin Duchemin, the board’s liaison to the department.

Chief Fabiano said he was only informed of the decision to layoff one of his officers at the last budget work session.

“I would like you all to know this officer will be David Driscoll,” said Fabiano, noting the two-year member of the department was named its officer of the year due to his work with the East End DWI Task Force and commitment to child safety programming.

Driscoll would be the second member of the force the chief would lose in the last year. Officer Michael Gigante left the force last year to work with another department amid what has become a contentious contract negotiation between the village and the police benevolent association (PBA).

If Driscoll’s position on the force is removed, that will leave the Sag Harbor Village Police Department with 10 officers and a chief.

“I am asking the board to keep this position in the budget as it is vital to the department’s staffing and scheduling needs,” writes the chief, noting two state studies have shown the department is already understaffed.

PBA President Patrick Milazzo said he would like to see if a committee could come up with alternatives to a flat layoff.

Gregory said before they can talk about saving the position they have to know what it will ultimately cost and that figure won’t be available until arbitration was settled.

Gilbride asked if the PBA would agree to a zero percent salary increase for three years in order to save the position.

“We are not going to talk about the contract publicly,” said Milazzo.

“Am I interested in saving Dave’s job? I would love to save Dave’s job,” said board member Robby Stein, but he added with the department taking 40 percent of the budget, retirement is increasing each year and there are other projects residents want funded outside of police services.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on April 3 at 4 p.m.