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McKevitt: State law generally favors town board in Islip dispute
A municipal law veteran said Tuesday that the Islip Town Board holds most of the leverage in its ongoing battle with Supervisor Tom Croci over hiring authority.
Assemb. Thomas McKevitt (R-East Meadow), a former deputy town attorney in Hempstead and former chairman of the municipal law committee of the Nassau County Bar Association, said he couldn’t comment specifically on the Islip despite. But he said that, generally speaking, a town board – not a town supervisor – holds all authority.
“Essentially, under the laws of the state of New York, the town board has all the power,” McKevitt said. “So when it comes to appointments, it’s whoever controls those three votes (on the board). That’s what it comes down to.”
McKevitt added that town supervisors don’t have the equivalent powers of a governor.
“Under the law, the supervisor is treated as an administrator, not an executive,” McKevitt said. “You could change that with a local law. … But, really, the supervisor is one member of the town board, even though he has the title.”
The Islip town board last month proposed a pair of resolutions that would transfer control from Croci to the board over hiring, firing and contract negotiations, among other responsibilities.
Croci fired back by removing Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a fellow Republican, as deputy town supervisor, saying he wanted a second-in-command he could rely on. Croci also said he asked for legal opinions from the state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Schneiderman’s office didn’t immediately comment Tuesday; a DiNapoli aide said they were looking into the issue.
McKevitt said even if state officials offer an opinion, it wouldn’t bind the town board to follow it.
“The opinion of the attorney general and comptroller? The are just opinions, not rule of law,” McKevitt said. “And the only way you can get that rule of law is by going to court.”