The Southampton Town property tax levy will remain flat for the third consecutive year under a spending plan the Town Board adopted Tuesday.
After passing a number of amendments co-sponsored by Republican Town Council members Chris Nuzzi and Christine Preston Scalera, Conservative Councilman Jim Malone, and Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member, the board unanimously adopted the revised version of the provisional budget that Throne-Holst originally crafted.
"The four of us worked hard and jointly to both trim additional moneys from appropriated fund balance, and most importantly, to better support the public safety and the police department budget," Throne-Holst said.
The amendments trimmed nearly $350,000 from the proposed budget.
While most amendments passed 5-0, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat, cast votes against a resolution to eliminate the position of grants coordinator and a resolution to decrease the budgeted salary of the civil engineer and secretarial assistant in the engineer division.
In statement from the Town Council office, Malone pointed out that amendments restore two police officers to the 2013 budget, reinstate two traffic control specialists and promote an officer to the rank of sergeant.
“These changes will enable the police department to establish a second Community Response Unit team which will enhance the department’s ability to increase police presence where necessary, and reduce overtime spending,” Malone said.
Throne-Holst said the second unit "will be directed mostly to covering the Flanders-Riverside area."
Amendments also reversed the plan to change the position of director of SEA-TV, the government access cable station, from full-time to part-time.
Fleming once again cast the sole dissenting vote on a hiring freeze renewed annually.
"If this really means what it says, I don't believe it allows the flexibility that governance needs in order to look toward the longterm health of the town," she said.
According to a statement from the Town Council office, the freeze was implemented in 2009 to limit new hires among non-emergency personnel and, as a result, there has been a net decrease of 74 employees, bringing the town’s payroll to 480 full-time employees, down from 554 in 2008.
Nuzzi, who sponsors the freeze, said in the same statement that “extending it into next year will allow Southampton to keep saving taxpayer dollars on expensive salary, pension, and medical costs, while building on reorganizational efforts, which have made town government more efficient and more effective with less employees.”