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Long IslandTowns

Islip board ousts planning commissioner, passes budget

Islip Town Hall in an undated photo.

Islip Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Erin Geismar

The Islip Town Board ousted the planning commissioner during a budget hearing Thursday and appointed his deputy in his stead.

Dave Genaway, who joined the department in 1997, was appointed commissioner in January 2011 by former Democratic Town Supervisor Phil Nolan. He was retained by Republican Town Supervisor Tom Croci, who is away on military duty.

The board, made up of three Republicans and a Conservative, unanimously voted to replace him with Deputy Planning Commissioner Rich Zapolski. The post pays $101,000 annually.

Both Genaway and Zapolski are registered Republicans.

Genaway, of Medford, declined to comment on reasons for the dismissal, saying, "I had a lot of wonderful memories working with a lot of great people in the Town of Islip. I wish them all the best."

Zapolski, an engineer from Bayport who was working in private practice before he joined the Planning Department in 2012, said in an email statement: "I look forward to continuing the tradition set by my predecessors and working with the Town Board in a new capacity for a better Islip."

None of the board members could be reached for comment on the firing.

Inez Birbiglia, spokeswoman for the town, said, "It's a personnel matter we can't discuss. We wish Dave Genaway the absolute best."

During his tenure, Genaway was involved in such major projects as the Ronkonkoma Hub and the now-stalled Heartland development in Brentwood.

The board also unanimously passed a $124.6 million 2014 operating budget, while voting to adjourn a vote on the capital budget plan until further review.

The new budget does not raise taxes and restores some services and personnel. The average homeowner with a house assessed at $400,000 will pay about $441 in town taxes, the same rate as under the current $111 million budget. The budget, which is a 12 percent spending increase over the current budget, restores services such as the seasonal bay constable and marina guard program, the town's pump-out boat and the Roberto Clemente/Timberline pool in Brentwood.

"We're working diligently to provide our residents the best services," said Councilman Anthony Senft Jr. after the hearing. He added, "It has always been my goal to reduce our tax burden. While I'm satisfied that we are not raising taxes, my goal is to decrease the taxes."

Islip Democrats criticized the board this year for using $14 million in fund balance. Senft defended the budget, saying, "We're relying on less fund balance than previous administrations . . . there is no one fix for our budgetary issues."

In 2012, the town dealt with a $26 million deficit by eliminating its entire human services department, laying off more than 50 staffers and raising taxes 28 percent. This summer, credit agency Standard & Poor's maintained the town's AAA bond rating but issued a negative outlook.

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