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Southampton Town Board approves $88.9 million town budget on a 3-2 vote

This file image shows Southampton Town Hall on

This file image shows Southampton Town Hall on July 14, 2012. Credit: Ian J. Stark

The Southampton Town Board approved an $88.9 million budget for 2015 with a 3-2 vote, representing a rare show of partisanship on the usually harmonious board.

Republicans Christine Scalera and Stan Glinka voted against the spending plan on Thursday after requesting several changes that failed along party lines.

Scalera said she opposed the budget because it raises spending by about $3 million, increases staffing and uses a schedule of pay raises for administrative staff that she said "essentially unionizes non-union employees."

"This is not a conservative budget," she said after the vote.

The budget passed with support from Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilman Brad Bender, both Independents, and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat.

Throne-Holst called the spending plan "a very sage, very solid, structurally balanced budget that does not raise taxes on our constituents."

"We are one of the few municipalities that are able to offer a budget like this, where we are not eliminating positions, where we are not eliminating service delivery, where we are not raising taxes," she said.

The Republicans also pressed to continue a hiring-freeze policy that had been in place since 2008, saying it was important to the town's fiscal recovery and helped it achieve an AAA credit rating.

But the Independent-Democratic majority voted to end the freeze. Fleming said the board had often circumvented the policy to fill vacant positions. Throne-Holst said she did not "need a hiring freeze to be fiscally responsible."

Members of the current board, which took office at the beginning of the year, have previously crossed party lines to agree on major issues, such as approving a controversial apartment complex in Tuckahoe.

The 2015 budget increases the amount the town collects in taxes by about 1 percent, but the tax rate will remain unchanged because the town's assessed value is projected to swell by $500 million next year.

It adds eight employees to the town's workforce of 484. They will be three police officers, a code enforcement officer, a justice court clerk, an engineering aide, an automotive equipment operator and a recreation leader.

Southampton's workforce has shrunk to 484 full-time employees from 554 in 2008, primarily because of three retirement incentives offered in that period, town officials said.

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