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Sag Harbor, police union talks at impasse

The Village of Sag Harbor is seeking bids for police services from surrounding agencies in an effort to cut costs and possibly shrink the size of its force, Mayor Brian Gilbride said Thursday.

He said the move is necessary because the village remains locked in a contract dispute with its police officers union that is now in its 14th month.

"The unions are pricing themselves out of work at this point," Gilbride said, adding that he hoped any changes would retain a smaller village force that would share patrol duties with other agencies.

Richard Milazzo, president of the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association, the village officers' union, did not return phone calls for comment Thursday.

The department has nine officers, one detective, two sergeants and the police chief, Gilbride said. "I am looking at some sort of shared-services agreement, not a dissolution of the department. I hope it doesn't come to that. That would not be my choice," he said.

Faced with a state-mandated cap that limits property tax increases to about 2 percent, the village is seeking bids from the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton and the Suffolk County sheriff's office, Gilbride said.

The moves comes as the village is negotiating with the police union on a contract to replace the one that expired in June 2011. The union wants a three-year pact with 4.5 percent annual pay increases. The village offered no increase for 2011, a 1 percent increase this year and 2 percent in 2013, Gilbride said.

The sides are at odds over a plan that would have new officers pay a share of their health care, which is now fully covered by the village.

The average base pay of a village officer is $118,198,66, but the actual cost per officer is $178,624.79 with overtime, health care and other costs, Gilbride said.

"I think policing is getting costlier for East End villages and other mayors share my concerns," Gilbride said.

The Village of East Hampton administrator, Larry Cantwell, said there was concern about police costs, and "all the villages on the East End, because of rising costs, are watching with interest what's going on in Sag Harbor." He said there was no similar move afoot in his village.

Stephen Funsch, Southampton Village administrator, said "there have been conversations with the Town of Southampton. We've discussed shared services."

Mayor Conrad Teller of the Village of Westhampton Beach said there was no such move in his village.

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