In a discussion that grew heated at times, the Southampton Town Board voted 3-2 to adopt the $94.7 million budget for 2017.
Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka cast the dissenting votes, citing concerns over increased spending and the creation of several new positions proposed in the budget. Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Councilwoman Julie Lofstad and Councilman John Bouvier voted to approve the spending plan.
The budget calls for a 3.9 percent increase from the 2016 spending plan, which totaled $91.1 million. The board split over the creation of both an Office of Housing and Community Development and a Department of Public Safety. The budget also funds the hiring of an additional police officer, a public safety dispatcher and a part-time code enforcement officer.
Citing her position as a fiscal conservative, Scalera said she was worried that the added costs of creating the new offices would strain town coffers.
“There is simply no need to create this at this time,” she said of the public safety office, adding that several of the proposed responsibilities of the office are already performed by the town attorney’s office and the housing authority.
Scalera said creating the public safety director position “would add another level of bureaucracy and remove these further away from the town board’s administration and oversight, as the town attorney is directly answerable to the town board.”
Schneiderman disagreed, arguing that the public safety office “can help us do a better job” in addressing local quality-of-life concerns.
Scalera said she was happy to see tax cuts in the budget but said she does not support increasing spending or a budget item that creates longevity pay — or additional salary based on years of service — for all full-time elected, appointed administrative and administrative support employees.
Bouvier stood by his support of the budget, noting a lot of work went into it.
“This was not done in a vacuum,” he said. “Many questions were asked.”