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Amityville Village, PBA continue talks on possible pay concessions

Amityville trustees and police union officials are scheduled to meet Thursday for talks on the village police union contract, a PBA representative said.

Mayor James Wandell, Deputy Mayor Jessica Bernius and trustee Nick LaLota have said the village's fiscal health rides on the outcome of the talks, where they will ask the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association to make wage concessions and reopen a contract that runs through 2018.

The outcome of a meeting last week was unclear, with a PBA representative and LaLota writing in separate emails that the talks were "honest," but offering few details about points of agreement or contention in what the PBA representative said was a 45-minute meeting at Village Hall.

LaLota did, however, write that the two sides discussed village finances and that trustees were "pleased that the PBA leadership is open to the idea of opening their contract." And while neither side said what might represent an acceptable resolution, both said they would talk until they found one.

"Our village is our priority and we will continue to dialogue with this administration until we can reach a pact that does not compromise the safety of our village," the PBA statement concluded, while noting that the union has already deferred pay and agreed to a lower starting salary for new hires.

LaLota has argued for months that current police pay is unsustainable, citing a report on village finances from the New York State comptroller's office and $10 million in debt. He called last week's talks "a sign that the Board and the PBA can partner up to keep Amityville moving forward."

The tone from both sides was more amicable than in the past, when the PBA accused LaLota of exploiting the pay issue for political gain and he accused the union of character assassination.

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