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Babylon renews contract with Zimmerman/Edelson for $48G

Babylon Town hall in Lindenhurst, July 9, 2017.

Babylon Town hall in Lindenhurst, July 9, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

Babylon Town has renewed a “public information consulting” contract with the Great Neck public relations firm Zimmerman/Edelson Inc., according to a Feb. 28 town board resolution.

Babylon and North Hempstead are alone among Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities in supplementing in-house communications staffs with outside PR firms, according to a Newsday survey. Both towns contract Zimmerman/Edelson for the work.

Babylon spokesman Kevin Bonner, one of two full-time communications staffers in the town, said the firm helps draft public statements, coordinates interviews and monitors news coverage of the town.

Firm co-founder Robert Zimmerman said his company has worked with Babylon Town since about 1992 and provides round-the-clock assistance to the town’s communications staff during severe weather events.

“We’re there for them 24-7,” he said. “Weather alerts don’t happen 9 to 5.”

Bonner said the arrangement saves the town money.

“It certainly seems cost-effective to have an outside consultant rather than spending money on a full-time employee,” he said.

The town board approved the one-year, $48,000 contract in a 5-0 vote on Feb. 28 with no discussion.

The firm’s last Babylon contract was for $36,000, a 2016 town board resolution shows.

Bonner said the company requested the higher fee.

“It was the first increase in eight years,” he said.

The Town of North Hempstead, which has a three-person communications staff, pays the company $71,250 annually for media advising, spokeswoman Carole Trottere said, adding that Zimmerman/Edelson has worked for the town for more than 10 years.

While Babylon and North Hempstead have salaried representatives and outside public relations contractors, some other towns have larger communications staffs, the survey showed. Hempstead Town, for example, has one part-time and seven full-time communications staffers, including four in the tax receiver’s office, according to town spokesman Michael Fricchione.

Zimmerman declined to say how many clients the firm represents, but said they include private, nonprofit and other public organizations, including the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority and numerous local school districts.

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