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Rally at Glen Cove City Hall against potential city layoffs

Glen Cove planning job cuts, tax increase

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CSEA Local 882 union members gathered on Tuesday night near the back entrance of Glen Cove City Hall to protest potential layoffs. 

Among the layoffs, which would come with the passage of the city’s proposed 2021 budget, would be Parks and Recreation Director Darcy Belyea and a laborer in the department. A roads laborer, a sanitation laborer, a personnel clerk and a finance clerk would also be laid off, with their positions eliminated. 

The positions of food service helper at the Glen Cove Senior Center and golf course administrator, currently unfilled, would be done away with as well. 

“It’s pretty serious at this point,” Angel Bonilla, a sanitation employee, said at the protest. “It’s pretty bad. We all work hard down here. We’re a team. We do what we have to do for the city to take care of our residents and our neighbors. It’s a shame.” 

In addition to possible layoffs, the roughly $64.3 million spending plan, which is now under review by the Glen Cove City Council, would raise city residential property taxes by 8.48 percent. The increase would exceed New York state’s tax-levy cap, which for Glen Cove is set at 1.56 percent this year. A two-thirds majority vote of the City Council would be needed to approve the increase.

A public hearing on the budget will be held Oct. 27.

If the council does not exceed the cap, city officials said, that would leave a budget deficit of about $2.3 million, and it was unclear at press time how that hole would be filled if that were the case.

Mayor Tim Tenke said only the city portion of residents’ property-tax bills would go up if the council were to raise taxes. City taxes, he said, represent 28 percent of Glen Cove residents’ tax bills. 

“This does not reflect the larger portion, or the school portion, of the tax,” he said. “It doesn’t impact the Nassau County or the library tax.”

Tenke explained that an owner of a home valued at $500,000 home would pay an extra $260 for the year if city taxes were raised 8.48 percent.

City Controller Michael Piccirillo explained that he and Tenke went through the budget line by line in order to balance it, cutting $867,000 in new hires and salary increase requests. “The mayor decided we were going to put a freeze into effect,” Piccirillo said, “and not incur any of those additional costs.”

Despite reducing costs by more than $2 million, they still faced a deficit, and eliminating positions was the next option. “Layoffs are always the last resort,” Tenke said, “and if our fiscal condition was better, and had prior administrations at least raised taxes to meet expenses, we wouldn’t be in this position. I did not want to, but I had no other choice to fill the gap in the budget.” 

“To say I was totally caught off guard by the 2021 proposed budget is an understatement,” Glen Cove CSEA President Maureen Pappachristou said at last week’s meeting. “Seven positions abolished. All union members. CSEA members seem to be the only ones paying for the poor budgeting of 2020.” 

“This is insulting to employees who helped during a pandemic,” Pappachristou added. 

She asked Tenke who would lead the Parks and Recreations Department if there would no longer be a director. The mayor said that park management would be consolidated with the Department of Public Works, and recreation would be managed by the Youth Bureau. 

Belyea “was in a position where we had the ability to roll over the parks department into the DPW and the recreation into the Youth Bureau so that we can eliminate her position and save her salary for the city, for the residents, without giving up any of the services those departments had provided to the city,” Tenke explained. “It was unfortunate. But that was one of the logical positions we had to look at. If I could have avoided it, I would have.”

Glen Cove residents said that Belyea, who has been the Parks and Recreation director since January of 1997, would be greatly missed. Belyea said she was advised not to comment at this time. 

“She has dedicated many years to the city and to the kids that have gone through her programs,” said resident Tina DeGiglio Pemberton. She said she had enrolled her children in the sports programs offered by Parks and Recreations from ages 3 to 13. “When my son found out her position was being abolished,” DiGiglio Pemberton added, “the first thing he said was, ‘Do they realize how much she does for the city?’” 

Another resident, Tara Butler Sahai, said that laying off Belyea would be a mistake. “Her love of work shines right through the product that you get,” Butler Sahai said. “Except for this year, obviously, every year since my son could do tee ball, she’s always made a point of saying hello to him, asking how he’s doing and just always reaching out to make sure [he] was having a good experience. She’s a good person.” 

For more information about the proposed 2021 budget, go to www.glencove-li.us/budget-finance/.