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Hempstead Town seeks list of personnel for possible layoffs

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino on Dec. 1,

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino on Dec. 1, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino has directed all departments to submit a list of full-time employees for possible layoffs.

The town also gave notice last week to 55 mechanics that they would be given an option to switch departments to avoid losing their jobs. Union officials said the reorganization is separate from potential layoffs townwide.

Santino has said he hasn’t decided to require layoffs but is seeking to save $19.1 million in payroll costs this year. He did not return calls Tuesday for comment.

Union officials had not been informed Tuesday of plans to consider townwide layoffs to close a budget deficit, Hempstead union president Charles Selitto said.

“I was very disheartened to hear the rumors that the town has prepared for layoffs,” Selitto said. “I have confidence in the words of the supervisor that he will do everything possible to preserve career positions.”

Santino’s administration in December sought a list of preferred employees from all departments “who, if necessary, would be a target for severance if budgetary constraints require it.” Eight departments responded initially last month.

Department heads were instructed to return a list of employees by Feb. 3 “explaining your rationale and reasoning for being unable to provide at least one name,” according to a follow-up letter sent last month by Santino chief of staff Stephen D’Esposito.

Town officials have emphasized that no layoffs are planned, and they do not have a target of how many positions could be eliminated.

The town employee civil service union is in the midst of contract negotiations with the town and has existing layoff and severance protections based on seniority.

“We look forward to working with the town to save money, but not if it’s going to be detrimental to our workforce,” Selitto said.

The town’s human resources department delivered a separate letter last week to mechanics in five departments consolidating the 55 mechanics to work under one General Services department.

Officials in the human resources department told employees that their title and salary would remain unchanged. If any employees declined the reassignment by March 10, they would be laid off.

The town has already saved $11.5 million in early retirement savings this year and cut 200 part-time employees, town spokesman Mike Deery said.

Town departments are limiting hours of part-time employees and seeking to reduce overtime payments. Cutting part-time hours saved $5.5 million last year, Santino said in a statement.

Santino cut overtime 45 percent last year by eliminating overtime by $2.5 million in 2016 compared with 2015, he said.

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