Calling her 2012 proposed budget a "structurally sound" plan that looks beyond next year, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said in her budget message Monday that her proposal to freeze spending and taxes came with a price: Southampton was one of the few Long Island towns to announce layoffs as part of next year's spending plans.

The freeze -- the budget remained flat at $80.1 million and the tax levy at $57 million -- came despite increases in mandated employee costs, such as health and retirement contributions and workers' compensation, as well as other contractual costs that added $5.1 million to the budget, Throne-Holst said in presenting the budget to the town board.

Another $1.8 million could have been raised by increasing property taxes within the state's new 2 percent tax cap, officials said. Throne-Holst instead proposed a substantial reorganization of some town departments and layoffs.

"It's about looking at the best budget this year for the next three or four or five years," she said. "It's really about looking at a reorganization -- how we provide services . . ."

In all, 29 positions would be lost. Retirement incentives -- $1,000 per year of service -- will be offered to avoid layoffs. Employees get full lifetime health benefits after 10 years of service.

The budget proposes reducing the police department down to 90, with eight fewer officers -- mostly supervisory positions -- and extra clerical support from other departments to put more officers on the street.

The town's contract with the Southampton Police Benevolent Association allows it to insist on forced retirements of officers with more than 20 years of service; the town will lay off only those with at least 25 years.

The town will reduce the rest of its staff by 21 layoffs. At least eight employees, including some police officers, have expressed interest in taking the early retirement incentive, Throne-Holst said.

Layoffs were necessary, she said, because the town's three unions have not agreed to concessions. Pete Collins, president of the Southampton unit of CSEA, said the union cannot agree to open the contract without the promise of a contract extension, which Throne-Holst said she is not willing to do.Two of the other four council members said Monday they agree in concept to the budget. The board will hold a series of budget work sessions which could amend it.

Latest videos