SCVOA News                                       August 2011

Suffolk County Village Officials Association 





We are are all keenly aware of the challenges and issues facing the villages across Suffolk County. With challenges, however, come opportunities. Now more than ever, SCVOA is committed to providing the support and leadership needed to help you achieve your goals and successfully represent your constituents. We're here to listen to your concerns and provide a strong voice and effective platform for you to advocate for your residents and communicate your needs.  


Join us at your Village Focus Group (see dates in this newsletter) and the Legislative Breakfast on October 3---just two of the numerous opportunities you'll have in the coming months to speak up for your village and let us know how we can support you.  


Your feedback is always welcome.  Call us or email and let us know what you're thinking.  We hope to see you all at the next SCVOA event!


Best wishes,

Timothy M. Hogue

President, SCVOA 


The New 2% Property Tax Cap:  
What It Really Means

High property taxes are a serious concern for most New Yorkers, and property tax relief is a priority for all of us here on Long Island.  However, while Gov. Cuomo's new 2% tax cap might be good politics for some elected officials, it is not the solution to our increasing tax burden, and it will devastate communities all over Suffolk County.


Simply put, the 2% property tax cap will limit annual increases in property taxes collected by villages to 2%.   On the surface, this sounds like an effective solution: Cut taxes and provide relief for overtaxed residents.  The fatal flaw in this plan, however, is that the taxes collected by the villages must be used not only for essential village services (police and fire protection, sanitation, traffic control, village parks, and a host of other basic services), but also for very costly state-mandated expenses.  The 2% cap will force us to use tax dollars first to pay for state-imposed expenses, and then whatever is left over---if anything----for village services.  


For us to do our jobs as elected village officials, we need to have access to every resource available. Requiring unfunded mandates will limit our flexibility in dealing with tough economic times.  New York State is tying our hands, diminishing our ability to deal creatively with budgets and essentially making us caregivers of our villages with declining financial resources. This tax cap will severely limit, and in some cases eliminate, local government's ability to provide your constituents with the essential public services they expect and to which they are entitled as


We all need to continue to speak out on this issue and SCVOA will offer the resources necessary to understand the implications of this legislation and deal with the economic challenges ahead. 

Spotlight on...BABYLON

Incorporated in 1893, the Village of Babylon is a vibrant community of approximately 12,000 residents and over 4,000 homes. It maintains an active and diverse downtown, featuring restaurants, shops and a movie theatre. 


Sitting on the Great South Bay, Babylon provides over 440 boat berths and an Olympic size pool for its residents. There are over 45 gardens and 8 playgrounds in and around the village, as well as scenic Argyle Park.  Argyle Park also features the Village Gazebo, the site of the Friday night free concert series during July and August, and the annual Country Fair sponsored by the Beautification Society in September.

Babylon offers over 100 acres of beautiful walkways from Argyle Lake to nearby Southards Pond.  The village is also proud of its 9 hole, par three golf course, the historic Nathaniel Conklin House, and the Babylon Village Historical Society Museum and Fountain.


Residents enjoy numerous celebrations and events throughout the year such as parades on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the Chamber of Commerce Spring Fling and Fall Festival, a Tuna Tournament and Snapper Derby hosted by the Babylon Tuna Club. The holidays are an extra-special time with lamppost decorating, an old fashioned night of shopping, and the village Tree Lighting Ceremony.



Did You Know...?


Long before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball, one of the first all-black baseball teams was established in Babylon in 1885. 

The Athletics of Babylon was organized by the head waiter at the landmark Argyle Hotel, a popular summer resort at the time.  The team consisted of hotel staff, and the ground-breaking Athletics enjoyed much success against the white teams on Long Island.

When tourist season ended, the team went on the road and played nationally as the Cuban Giants.  Renamed out of concern that white crowds wouldn't support black baseball players, the team quickly gained a stellar reputation.  The Cuban Giants were universally praised throughout the country for their incredible talent.  Pitcher Shep Trusty and long-ball hitter Sol White were considered among the best baseball players of the time.  

Counsel's Corner
Peter A. Bee, Esq.

Is your village attorney a public officer/employee, or an independent contractor?  And what difference does it make? 


We are all aware of the recent public outcry (and the response of the New York State Comptroller) to municipal attorneys who were found on the public pension rosters, but who were maintaining full private practices independent of their school "employment."  Broadly speaking, the Comptroller concluded that such practices were illegal.  He demanded refunds of pensions paid and threw others off the pension-earning rosters.  The Comptroller also introduced new regulations determining what kind of professional is - or isn't - an employee eligible for pension credits.  Those regulations essentially presume that municipal attorneys affiliated with private law practices are not employees, and are not eligible for state pension credits.


However, that's not the end of the story.  The Comptroller may be able to decide who does or doesn't get a pension (within limits), but the Comptroller does not have the authority to change NYS law on who is - or isn't - an employee for other purposes, e.g., health insurance, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and perhaps most importantly, who is or isn't eligible to fulfill the "public officer" duties that may befall a village attorney.


In New York, villages are authorized to create the "public office" of village attorney. If your village code "empowers" your village attorney, i.e., vests him/her with the discretionary power to effectively make decisions of, and exercise some of the powers of village government, then your village attorney may qualify as a "public officer."  This is important because if he/she is a public officer, he/she must necessarily be an "employee" of the village since NYS law is that the duties and responsibilities of a public officer may not be "contracted out" to an independent contractor.  An independent contractor may advise, but only a public officer/employee can exercise the authority of the village - and if empowered to exercise the power of a village, the individual is likely an "employee/public officer."


If in doubt, check with your village attorney!

SCVOA Executive Board



Timothy M. Hogue

Mayor, Dering Harbor


1st Vice President

Peter Imbert

Mayor, Amityville


2nd Vice President

Ralph A. Scordino

Mayor, Babylon



Patricia Irving

Mayor, Asharoken


Immediate Past President

Leland M. Hairr

Mayor, Lloyd Harbor



Paul Pontieri, Jr.

Mayor, Patchogue



Paul Rickenbach, Jr.

Mayor, East Hampton


Executive Director

Hon. Paul J. Tonna

Former Suffolk County Presiding Officer



Peter A. Bee, Esq.

Former Mayor,

Garden City


Project Manager

Deborah Young




Meet Babylon Mayor

Ralph Scordino



Mayor Scordino


Mayor Scordino has been a catalyst for change in Babylon Village throughout his time in office.  He has ushered Babylon through numerous changes and improvements including making road renovations, installing new lighting, purchasing fire equipment, and maintaining and upgrading trails from Argyle Lake to Southards Pond. Mayor Scordino was influential in making Babylon Village the first municipality in Suffolk County to offer WiFi in the business district, and Babylon was given the 2010 Smart Growth Award by Vision Long Island under his leadership.

Mayor Scordino was an educator for 34 years. He can often be seen throughout the Village where he spends a great deal of his time. His accessibility offers the residents the advantage of having a mayor who is hands-on and easy to communicate with. Ralph and his wife Linda have been married for 35 years and they raised their two children in Babylon.



To All Village Mayors!
Attend Your Regional Focus Group
Let Your Voice Be Heard!
North Shore/South Shore
August 18, 6PM
1117 Walt Whitman Rd
August 30, 6PM
Mamma Lombardi's
400 Furrows Rd
North Fork/South Fork
August 29, 6PM
Finn McCool's
101 Old Riverhead Rd
Westhampton Beach
Dinner Will Be Served
to Reserve a Spot!
Email or call
Legislative Breakfast
October 3
9-10:30 AM
Crowne Plaza Hotel
1730 North Ocean Ave
Holtsville, NY 11742
Focus on 
NY's 2% Tax Cap
What's happening in your village?  

Let us know!