By Gregory Zarb and Joseph Goncalves
The office of the Oyster Bay Town supervisor will get an almost 40% salary increase, while some 20 Public Safety workers stand to lose their jobs, after the Oyster Bay Town Board decided last Tuesday to pass a $298 million budget for 2018.
The budget cuts public safety department salaries by over $400 thousand, slashing up to 20 public safety positions, and merging the department with the Oyster Bay Parks Department and the Nassau County Department of Public Safety. But the budget also includes salary increases: a $347 thousand increase in salaries for the office of the supervisor, which adds almost 40% to the 2016 budget.
In order to be enacted, the new budget has to go through the Nassau County legislature, the Nassau County Union Association, through the town board, and through the CSEA 881 to be enacted. The CSEA has been in total disagreement with the policy and is confident that it will not pass through the necessary channels.
The Town of Oyster Bay has refused to comment on the budget cuts.
The budget was Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s first since he was appointed in January of this year. It passed with a tight vote of just 4-3, with most opposition being drawn from the elimination of the Public Safety Department. Councilman Anthony Macagnone and Councilwomen Rebecca Alesia and Michele Johnson voted against the budget.
The movement to consolidate the two departments comes in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Shared Services Initiative” which aims at reducing property taxes by assembling governments to consolidate services within the town. The initiative aims to save money by eliminating duplicative services, but not all workers within the town agree.
“The Union totally disagrees with the Supervisor wanting to eliminate any department,” Jarvis Brown, Civil Service Employees Association President, said. “We’ve already been through a tough negotiation from the end of 2015 to January of this year. Under the old administration we faced 175 to 200 layoffs. We beat that with strong negotiation, and we’re going to fight for this one too.”
The negotiation was for the current contract between union members and the town of Oyster Bay that secures the job for public service workers for five years, which includes a layoff clause that prevents the cutting of jobs for the sake of budgetary changes. The vast majority of workers for the town of Oyster Bay are members of CSEA 881 and are covered under that five year contract.
The new budget by the Oyster Bay Town Board is in direct violation of union contracts and the language included in them that covers employees from layoffs due to budget changes, according to Brown.
Oyster Bay is one of many Long Island towns whose public services sectors have been affected by cuts brought forth from the “Shared Service Initiative.” Back in 2015, the town of Smithtown proposed a budget that included cuts up to 3.5 million dollars-worth.
“We’ve always fought for our members, and we will continue to fight for our members, but I think it’s not that much of a fight anymore when it’s black and white in the contracts,” Brown said.