Government: Southampton Adopts Budget and Settles Suit, Planning Board Adopts Checklist

Southampton Town Hall

Southampton Adopts 2018 Budget

The Southampton Town Board approved a $99.4 million budget for 2018 over the objection of Councilwoman Christine Scalera at a special meeting on November 20.

The budget calls for a $4.7 million spending increase, although thanks to a growing tax base, the budget will result in a slight cut in the tax rate and meet the state-mandated 2-percent tax levy cap.

The tax rate is expected to be $1.389 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is about 0.6 percent less than the current rate. The total assessed valuation, or the value of all real estate in town on which taxes are collected, has grown by about 5 percent to $63.69 billion.

During a brief budget meeting, outgoing Republican Councilman Stan Glinka introduced a resolution that would have shaved about $145,000 in spending by eliminating by eliminating full-time clerk-typist positions in the Housing and Community Development office and Department of Public Safety as well as roll back by $24,419 a suggested starting salary of a yet-to-be-hired hired new assistant town attorney.

Mr. Glinka, who lost his bid for reelection, said he hoped the board would continue to act in a fiscally responsible way. “My one concern is being top heavy in management here,” he said, adding that he would rather the town focus increasing staff in the Building Department and Trustees’ office and adding more code enforcement officers. “Sometimes you need more boots on the ground … before we hire high level administrative positions,” he said.

Councilwoman Scalera, who has questioned spending increases in the past, did not offer any reasons for voting against the budget at the meeting, but Supervisor Jay Schneiderman defended the spending plan.

“I think it’s a good budget,” he said. “It’s a slight reduction in the tax rate and it also stays within the tax cap and supplies all the needs of our community.”

Police Officer, Town Settle Suit

Southampton Town and a female police officer who filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in 2014 have reached a settlement.

Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa, who is head of the department’s detective division, charged in the suit that she had been passed over for promotions because she was a woman.

Kelly Magnuson, an attorney with the Albany law firm, confirmed this week that the suit had been settled, but would offer no specifics, saying only “the settlement is confidential.”

Det. Sgt. Costa could not be reached for comment.

Another female officer, Sgt. Susan Ralph, filed a similar suit against the town in 2015, charging she had been subjected to sexual harassment and not been promoted because she was a woman. Just a month later, though, the town promoted her to lieutenant, making her the first woman to hold that position with the town department.

Sag Harbor Planning Board Adopts Checklist

Residents, builders and attorneys who have applications before the Sag Harbor Planning Board now have a new tool to help them navigate the process and a new rule to follow when bringing their matters before the board.

The board on Tuesday introduced a checklist, developed by its consultant, Kathy Eiseman of the firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, that people can use to make sure their applications are more complete and accurate when they submit them.

Board chairman Greg Ferraris said while the village’s building code “clearly spells out what needs to be contained in an application,” it is often written in complicated terms. “This clarifies and simplifies it a little bit,” Mr. Ferraris said.

The planning board also announced applicants wishing to adjourn their presentations to a future meeting will need to give at least seven days’ notice to the board to do so. Until now, the board was receiving notices of adjournments right up until the day of the meeting.

“It’s frustrating the day of, so I think we should have something in place,” board member Michelle Cottrell said.

Board attorney Denise Schoen said a similar policy worked in East Hampton Town to expedite applications that would linger before the board for many months. Mr. Ferraris said advance notice of adjournment via email notification would be acceptable.