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Town Hopes to Avert Layoffs

Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto announces tentative deal with union employees.

The Town of Oyster Bay has taken step towards adopting a slimmer budget for 2013, without making layoffs, according to  supervisor John Venditto.

There were no commenters at Tuesday's two public hearings on the proposed budget, but after the hearing closed, Venditto responded to a question about potential layoffs during the public comment portion of the regular board meeting.

"We have a tentative accord with the labor union, which I think has the potential to avert layoffs," he said.

Town officials had previously indicated that they might have to lay off between 150 and 200 workers.

Venditto said that the proposed budget had already cut about $25 million. Those cuts came from discretionary spending, the 91 employees who took a retirement incentive, overtime cuts and the new state tax cap, according to Venditto.

The cost savings from the accord with the union will be on top of that, according to the supervisor.

CSEA local 881 president Robert Rauff, Jr. used the phrase "verbal understanding," to describe describe the status between the union and the Town, emphasizing that there is no signed agreement yet.

But he was quick to point out that "The supervisor has been very good to the union and his employees."

Rauff said the discussions are are centered around the unions getting an extension of their exiting contract and a guarantee that there'd be no layoffs.

The contract would be  restructured to include cost cutting measures including possible salary adjustments, Rauff said.

Venditto and Town Comptroller Robert McEvoy both expressed hope that the union and the Town could both approve a formal agreement in November.

Venditto acknowledged the difficulties of passing a budget in recent years, saying, "we're at the mercy of worldwide, nationwide and region-wide forces."

But he expressed optimism for the Town's future, stating, "when the clouds disappear and the sun comes out, we're going to be in great shape."    

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