Southampton Town’s civil service union said it will challenge the Town Board’s decision to eliminate a top Highway Department position under its $88.6 million budget for 2015, which was adopted last week.
Laura Smith, the elected head of the local chapter of the Civil Service Employees Association, told board members last week that union leaders do not believe the town can eliminate the general supervisor position from the Highway Department hierarchy.
“I believe that the position has certain duties associated with it that have always been provided by the union to the town and … cannot be eliminated from the budget as proposed,” Ms. Smith said. “If you take this action, we would be filing an improper practice claim.”
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst defended the decision, stating that the board had already checked with its labor attorneys and determined that by redistributing the duties of longtime General Manager Lance Aldrich to other positions, the town was on solid legal footing to eliminate the position.
Mr. Aldrich, who has worked in the department for nearly 30 years, is expected to retire, though he could return in a part-time capacity and still draw his state pension benefits.
“We are, all of us, sorry to see that individual go and we thank him for his many years of service to the town, and we hope he stays with the town,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “But we respect the highway superintendent as an elected official and department head, and his ability to organize [the department].”
The 2015 budget eliminated the general supervisor position at the request of Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor. Instead, Mr. Gregor asked that the $171,000 in total salary and benefits costs assigned to the general supervisor in 2013 be redirected to allow him to hire three new employees—two drivers and a mechanic.
While Ms. Throne-Holst’s initial budget called for the hiring of the three new employees for Mr. Gregor’s department, the plan adopted last week includes funding for just two additional crew members.