SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Critics are calling for big changes in this tony Long Island town.
Many residents refer to the Hamptons as “God’s country.” It’s a land filled with mansions, beaches and fancy boutiques, but some homeowners are accusing the town of letting police officers rack up outrageous pensions on the backs of taxpayers.
Residents told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan that police pensions are over the top.
“It is a little excessive to be in Southampton and retire at $110,000 a year,” said Susan Gibson.
Nearly 10 percent of the town workforce of 98 people was cut last year, in order to balance the books. Some residents blame it on out-of-control pensions paid to police officers.
Southampton pays a few percentage points more than other municipalities into the state pension fund, it allows officers to contribute 3 percent of their compensation towards their pension for the first 10 years on the job. After that they pay nothing.
Officers in Southampton can retire with full pension after 20 years.
Southampton officials defended the program.
“Our police officers are a part of our public safety net that taxpayers are dependent on,” said town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
Throne-holst cited a rise in drug-related crimes and an understaffed police department as justification for the generous benefits, but recognized the need for pension change.
“This notion of pension reform is one that we certainly applaud the governor’s leadership on, and we want to work with him,” she said.
Town officers in Southampton make more than $60,000 a year, almost double the starting salary of Nassau County, and much more than the $42,000 than Suffolk and NYPD officers earn.
The town of Southampton’s police force is separate from the village force.
The town patrols Quogue, Westhampton, Southampton, and parts of Sag Harbor.
Where do you stand on pension, is it over the top or have the officers earned it? Let us know in our comments section below…