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Oyster Bay seeks to cut 150 employees from town payroll

Town Supervisor John Venditto listens as Ed Hannon,

Town Supervisor John Venditto listens as Ed Hannon, project manager for Northrop Grumman, presents plans for wells in one of the contaminated zones in Bethpage to the Town of Oyster Bay Town Board on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 in Oyster Bay. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay Town must cut its payroll by 150 employees by Jan. 1 as part of a strategy to restore fiscal balance, Town Supervisor John Venditto said Tuesday.

“I see it happening across the board,” Venditto said at the end of Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. “It has to happen, I can’t say it anymore clearly than that.”

The staff reduction, which will be included in his tentative 2017 budget proposal, would be in addition to 103 retirements or resignations this year and would reduce the current full time staff of 1,045 by about 14 percent.

Venditto also said elected officials would have their salaries reduced by an unspecified amount, some town services would be cut, and seasonal and part-time workers would be reduced as would spending on outside consultants.

Venditto said that department heads would be called upon to get their work done with reduced staffs.

“We are not diminishing this workforce to the point where the work can’t get done,” he said.

The proposal to cut employers comes as the town is negotiating with its union, CSEA Local 881, for a new contract when the current one ends on Dec. 31. Union JPresident arvis Brown said in an interview Tuesday that he recognized the town has serious financial problems but that “no one should be laid off.”

“Our job is to make sure that every member in the town of Oyster Bay has a job,” Brown said.

In April, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Oyster Bay’s credit rating to junk status, which increases interest costs the town must pay to borrow for capital costs. That downgrade prompted Venditto to create a task force to produce a report within 90 days but later said he would outline a comprehensive financial proposal before Labor Day, using input from many sources.

The staff reduction proposal Tuesday was offered with few specifics but Venditto said additional information would be available on Wednesday.

A five-year debt-reduction plan would reduce the town’s debt to less than $700 million from $773 million in two years and would then require that for the following three years new borrowing be less than the amount of debt being retired every year, Venditto said.

“We’re going to have to dig deeper,” Venditto said.

The town’s financial problems prompted Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) to call last month for a state appointed monitor for the town’s finances. Venditto, a Republican, has rejected that proposal, calling it politically motivated.

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