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Union opposes Oyster Bay plan to drop public safety department

A plan from Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino,

A plan from Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, seen here on June 29, 2017, to eliminate the public safety department appeared to be dead Tuesday. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s proposal to eliminate the town’s public safety department appeared to be dead Tuesday after a union representative raised objections during a budget hearing.

The proposal to move public safety officers to Nassau County to save the town $1.3 million would require multiple approvals by town, county and state governments, as well as town and county unions.

Betsy Healey, executive vice president of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 881, which represents Oyster Bay Town employees, told the board the union expects the town to honor the collective bargaining agreement ratified earlier this year.

“That’s our first and foremost priority that that collective bargaining agreement is upheld, which means the employees of the Town of Oyster Bay remain employees of the Town of Oyster Bay until 2021,” Healey said.

Two board members, Rebecca Alesia and Anthony Macagnone, also objected to the measure.

The budget proposal is Saladino’s first since being appointed supervisor in January and he touted it as saving taxpayers money through consolidation of departments and debt reduction.

“We’re very proud of this budget,” Saladino said. “This is a budget with no gimmicks.”

The town board is expected to schedule an Oct. 24 special meeting to vote on the $289.9 million budget, which would slightly reduce the property tax levy, town spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email. The meeting would take place before the election and almost one month before the deadline to adopt it.

Last year, which was not an election year for the town, the board adopted an 11.5 percent tax levy increase.

Democrats attacked the budget proposal as a continuation of the opaque practices of former supervisor John Venditto’s administration because it contained pages of revenue and expense line items without an overall narrative, charts and graph or a capital budget.

“You would think they would go out of their way to put forth a budget that’s more transparent,” said Eva Pearson, a Democratic candidate for town board.

A plan to eliminate the town’s $17 million accumulated deficit by the end of 2018 has been scrapped in this budget and will instead be reduced to $14 million, town finance director Robert Darienzo said.

The town plans to stop a practice of amortizing pension payments in which the town pays a portion of its annual pension obligations over several years with interest.

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