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Amityville leaders weigh cutting spending

Amityville trustees are considering new laws to regulate renewable energy systems in the village and end free health insurance for incoming elected officials and their families.

The bills followed the release of a state audit critical of village budgeting and financial management, which dominated the discussion in a board meeting last week.

The proposal to end free health insurance drew strong interest from residents, with some asking that the law be broadened to eliminate benefits to current and former officials or require substantial contributions from them. "You're costing us a lot of money," resident Peter Himmelman told trustees.

Trustees have said they are unwilling to make the law retroactive, and village attorney Bruce Kennedy warned an attempt to claw back benefits already granted would be legally problematic. "You don't have a right to take away benefits conferred by contract, even if it's an implied contract," he told trustees in a pre-meeting work session.

The 2012-13 village budget includes $1.8 million in health benefits for employees and retirees. Village administrator Diane Sheridan said 5 percent, or $90,000, would go toward benefits for seated elected officials and their families; 1.5 percent, or $27,000, would benefit retired elected officials or their relatives. Two officials and their family members are covered by the plan, she said.

Trustees tabled that proposal and another that Kennedy said would control size and location for solar and wind power generators in the village. There are only 15 such devices in Amityville, but Mayor Peter Imbert said the village wanted regulations in place to protect quality of life for residents before any proliferation. Wind turbines can be noisy, he said, and solar panels can be eyesores. The proposed law would subject panel installation plans in the Historical District to review by the Planning Board and set a 35-decibel limit for turbines.


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