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Salary

Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso

A few Brookhaven officials are bringing in more bacon after the town board approved salary increases for them on Tuesday.

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), Town Clerk Donna Lent (R) and Town Tax Receiver Louis Marcoccia (R) will see an uptick in their salaries following the board’s unanimous vote — Losquadro from $98,534 to $112,000; Lent from $92,386 to $100,000; and Marcoccia from $90,922 to $100,000.

But some community members weren’t on the same page as the board.

“There’s no doubt they deserve a raise, however, we all do and we’re not getting one,” Brookhaven resident James Wilkie said during a public hearing on the matter. “Taxpayers of this town, as you know as well as anybody else, are hurting.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the positions in question haven’t seen salary increases in the past eight to 10 years.

“Several years go by and it becomes evident that other municipalities are paying higher than Brookhaven for different positions,” the supervisor said.

Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the town looked at the salaries for those positions in neighboring towns and took the average.

“You want to stay competitive, you want to be able to attract good people to this job in the future,” Romaine said before the vote. “One way to do it is to make sure the compensation is accurate.”

Clifford Hymowitz, president of a part-timers union in the town, expressed gratitude that the town is financially stable enough to increase certain employee salaries, but demanded similar recognition for people working part-time.

According to Hymowitz, 38 of his 171 part-timers have made less than $12 an hour over the past four or five years. He added that some have worked for a decade or more and are still making $9.75 an hour.

Eaderesto noted that residents who wish to put the salary increases up for a public vote have 45 days to submit petitions to request a referendum.

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Vecchio memo puts end to weeks-long discussion over councilman’s plan to pay workers $9 an hour

Smithtown Town Hall. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Some Smithtown seasonal employees will have a little extra weight added to their wallets next year, but only by about 25 cents.

In a memo sent to the Town Board, Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) had made official the town’s commitment to including a minimum wage increase in the tentative 2016 budget for part-time summer positions. The discussion over whether or not to raise the minimum wage from $8.75 had been ongoing for several weeks since Councilman Bob Creighton (R) had introduced the proposal via a resolution at a recent Town Board meeting, but a disagreement over protocol had blocked the plan.

Creighton first brought the proposal to the board in August, but Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) floated a motion to table the proposal, which was unanimously approved.

The measure reappeared on the agenda at an early September Smithtown Town Board meeting and Nowick once again voted to table the discussion, drawing 3-2 split from councilmembers, with support from Councilman Tom McCarthy (R) and Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R).

“This doesn’t mean I am not in support of this,” Nowick said at the meeting after motioning to table the plan. “I want to look at the budget, which is not due for another 30 days or so.”

McCarthy, who voted in favor of tabling the discussion alongside Nowick and Vecchio, said in a phone interview earlier this month that he was in favor of raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour for the town’s seasonal workers, but believed it should be put into the budget. He also said he and his fellow councilmembers had full intentions of seeing the raise put into effect through the budget.

Creighton said the 25-cent raise for the town’s roughly 150 seasonal workers making $8.75 an hour would ultimately cost roughly $23,000, which he said could be factored into the budget now so the budget process could react accordingly.

Wehrheim said at the time that he was concerned with the way the procedure went through, given the fact that the councilmembers who voted against the resolution had weeks since it was last tabled to voice their concerns regarding its financial impact on the town.

Over the last several months, Smithtown resolutions for municipal hires showed workers being hired at rates anywhere from as low as $8 to as high as $16 per hour. The town, however, is not legally bound to abide by a minimum wage.

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McCarthy, Nowick, Vecchio vote again to table Creighton’s proposal to pay seasonal workers $9 an hour

Smithtown Town Hall. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

A previously tabled motion to increase the minimum wage for Smithtown employees was sidelined once again, and the town board is at odds over the reasoning behind it.

Councilman Bob Creighton (R) had initially proposed, at a work session in August, to raise the town’s minimum wage from $8.75 to $9 per hour as of April 2016, but Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) later floated a motion to table the proposal, which was unanimously approved. The measure reappeared on Tuesday’s Smithtown Town Board meeting agenda and Nowick once again voted to table the discussion, drawing 3-2 split from councilmembers, with support from Councilman Tom McCarthy (R) and Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R).

“This doesn’t mean I am not in support of this,” Nowick said, in justifying her decision to table the proposal a second time, after Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) had publicly asked her to explain her decision. “I want to look at the budget, which is not due for another 30 days or so.”

In a phone interview, Creighton said he was caught off guard by the decision to table the proposal a second time, and the councilwoman’s explanation to wait for the budget process early next month bewildered him.

“It does not seem to be a justification, in my mind, for postponing the vote,” said Creighton, who, along with Wehrheim, voted against Nowick’s motion to table the proposal for a second time. “You’re either for it or against it.”

Creighton said the 25-cent raise for the town’s roughly 150 seasonal workers making $8.75 an hour — would ultimately cost roughly $23,000, which he said could be factored into the budget now so the budget process could react accordingly.

“The actions of those three are asinine,” Creighton said. “It’s an insult to the kids who are working hard in this town.”

Wehrheim said he was concerned with the way the procedure went through, given the fact that the councilmembers who voted against the resolution had weeks since it was last tabled to voice their concerns regarding its financial impact on the town. He said the $9 minimum wage proposal was not only in line with state law, but was also run by Vecchio, Comptroller Donald Musgnug and the town’s personnel department, which he said validated the proposal.

“Not one word was uttered about any intention to table that resolution,” Wehrheim said. “The time to have that discussion was certainly at our work session. I know Councilwoman Nowick said she’d rather look at the budget first, but there is no reason to. I don’t think it’s fair to the public.”

Musgnug had no comment on the matter. But Vecchio later said Creighton’s resolution was a politically motivated decision, as most town workers were already making more than $9.

Over the last several months, Smithtown resolutions for municipal hires showed workers being hired at rates anywhere from as low as $8 to as high as $16 per hour. The town, however, is not legally bound to abide by a minimum wage.

McCarthy, who voted in favor of tabling the discussion alongside Nowick and Vecchio, said in a phone interview that he was in favor of raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour for the town’s seasonal workers, but believed it should be put into the budget. He also said he and his fellow councilmembers had full intentions of seeing the raise put into effect through the budget.

McCarthy said everyone on the board was ultimately in favor of raising the minimum wage, but they disagreed over how to implement the change.

“Going up to $9 is not a problem,” McCarthy said. “But the process is not putting it into a resolution. We’ve never done that before, ever. I tabled it because I will be putting it into the budget myself, definitely.”

In a similar instance last year, McCarthy had put forward a successful 3-2 resolution to increase the salary of the deputy supervisor — his own position — by $30,000, but ultimately rescinded the decision and said he would rather see that call come via the budgeting process. The raise was later included in the 2015 budget and passed.

The town board discusses a resolution added to a meeting agenda. Photo by Phil Corso

A Smithtown councilman is proposing to raise the minimum wage for town employees, but the discussion has been tabled for future consideration.

Town Councilman Bob Creighton (R) initially proposed to have a minimum wage resolution be added to the agenda to last Tuesday afternoon’s town board meeting, which would effectively set the minimum wage at $9 per hour as of April 1, 2016.

The motion was met with skepticism, and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) moved to table the proposal for a future date, which the board unanimously approved.

Over the last several months Smithtown resolutions for municipal hires showed workers being hired at rates anywhere from as low as $8 and as high as $16 per hour. The town, however, is not legally bound to abide by a minimum wage.

Creighton could not be reached for comment. The discussion will be revisited at a later town board session.

Joe Sabia. File photo by Rohma Abbas

A former Northport-East Northport school board trustee is calling the group’s decision to shell out $935 a day for an interim assistant superintendent for human resources “absurd.”

The board voted on June 15 to appoint Lou Curra as its interim assistant superintendent for human resources from June 17 through Dec. 23, replacing former assistant superintendent Rosemarie Coletti, who resigned on June 30 to take another job. Curra didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday, but Joe Sabia, who served on the school board from 2011 to 2014, took to the microphone at a meeting on July 1 to tell board members he and others in the community felt that $935 a day was too high, and that the district should have hired someone from within.

“They think that you’re pushing the envelope too far against the homeowners — the taxpayers of this district — to bring in an interim,” he said.

School board members, however, countered that the appointment is not long-term and that the board needed to find someone with the right skill set to assist new Superintendent Robert Banzer.

“That is a per diem appointment with no vacation time, no sick time, no benefits,” Trustee Julia Binger told Sabia. “… And also we needed somebody who was very experienced, because we have a new superintendent on board, and we need to have somebody very solid who really understands human resources and collective bargaining and so on.”

Board President Andrew Rapiejko said that for human resources, this is the busiest time of the year.

“We are in the process of soliciting resumes for permanent person to take over that and hopefully we’ll have someone on board in relatively short order,” he said.

With costs rising all over, Sabia said taxpayers are struggling.

“You’re pushing people to the limit,” he said.

Employee attendance to be tracked electronically

File photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington Town employees may soon have their work time and attendance tracked by a new electronic system.

The board voted unanimously by resolution earlier this month to authorize the implementation of an electronic time and attendance system. The resolution was sponsored by Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and seconded by Councilman Gene Cook (I). The new electronic system will replace an old paper sign-in system.

“There has to be a system in place to track employees’ times,” Berland said in a phone interview this week.
The resolution was adopted for two reasons, Berland said.

In 2013, an audit of the town’s payroll costs by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office found the town had issues monitoring its overtime and leave benefits that could have entailed higher payroll costs.

The audit findings resulted in a recommendation to upgrade the town’s outdated time and attendance system.

Issues with overtime and leave are expected to be alleviated by the updated electronic system, which was a major finding of the 2013 audit. The audit looked at records from January 2011 through May 2012, and found that Huntington Town allowed employees to accrue more leave than bargaining agreements permit.

Implementing the electronic system also fulfills a requirement to qualify for tax relief for New York State taxpayers as part of the Government Efficiency Plan program. The plan, which is outlined on the state Division of the Budget page on the New York State government website, states that local governments and school districts can generate relief for taxpayers and qualify for the program by reducing costs through the consolidation of services.

The new automated system would be a step in the right direction to qualifying Huntington Town for the program and fulfilling the state requirements, Berland said. The new system was available on the New York State contract and procured with the New Jersey-based company SHI International Corp., according to the resolution. The total cost, which includes service contracts, computers, software and printers, will be $255,000.

“It helps lower payroll costs in the end,” Berland said, which she said is a key deciding factor in gaining approval on the town’s Government Efficiency Plan.

The new system will also serve to provide the town with “a more uniform sign in policy,” town spokesman A.J. Carter said during a phone interview.

Berland said there is not yet a timetable in regards to when the new system will be up and running, and that she did not want to speculate on a date.

“We have to develop a plan about how and when to institute this,” Berland said.