Amityville to discuss amendments to police contract

Amityville Village Hall

Amityville Village Hall Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

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Amityville trustees and the union representing village police officers have agreed to meet to discuss amendments to the police contract.

The village will seek pay concessions, said trustee Nick LaLota, the village's budget officer. While the contract runs through 2018, a village proposal -- outlined in a letter to the PBA made public this spring -- asks the union to agree to a freeze on the base pay of top-earning officers.

Compensation for those 24 police officers accounts for most of the $4.7 million in police spending in the 2014-15 village budget. A renegotiated contract would be part of a package of villagewide cost-cutting, grant and development-seeking measures to solidify finances, LaLota said.

"The Amityville PBA has demonstrated time and again our willingness to work cooperatively for the benefit of our village and its residents," union president Chris Mullin said in a statement. "As officers, we work and live in the village, and we have a vested interest in the future of our community. We assure our residents that we will remain open-minded throughout the process."

LaLota said the meeting would be held July 14, but a source close to PBA leadership said no date had been agreed upon yet.

Amityville, running a $350,000 deficit on a $14.9 million budget, faces challenges that led to a "significant fiscal stress" label from state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli earlier this year. The village's annual employee benefit obligations are equivalent to three-quarters of its revenues, officials say.

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The PBA is under no legal obligation to reopen its contract, signed in the waning days of the last mayoral administration, but LaLota said practical considerations might encourage it to do so.

"A concession from the PBA would help us save our police department," he said. "Eventually, the problem for the village will be so dire that either a control board or a bankruptcy judge will take decisions away from the [village] board and they will certainly look at the PBA contract."

LaLota said the village would likely hire a labor relations lawyer for the meeting. His own relations with the union have been less than cordial.

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While he was one of three trustees who signed the letter to the PBA this spring -- Mayor James Wandell and Deputy Mayor Jessica Bernius also signed -- union officials bought newspaper ads singling him out for his role in what they called a political gimmick.

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