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Town Board hires new town attorney, but tables proposal to set organizational structure

The Riverhead Town Board approved a resolution Tuesday to hire a successor to longtime town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz, who’s now retired.

Erik Howard, who had been a deputy town attorney, was promoted to the new position to head the department.

Mr. Howard’s annual salary will increase from $97,894 to $139,000. Mr. Kozakiewicz’s salary was $139,480; he had received a 5% increase at the start of the month just before he retired. Mr. Howard is the son-in-law of Councilman Tim Hubbard, who recused himself on the appointment vote.

A proposal by Supervisor Yvette Aguiar to set an organizational structure for the town attorney’s office didn’t have the votes amongst her fellow board members.

Patricia Theodorou, who works in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, was proposed to become deputy town attorney and to rank second in the department organizational structure the supervisor presented.

Her salary for the year would have been $138,500.

However, a split board voted to table her appointment, as well as the organizational structure the supervisor proposed. 

Under the proposal, deputy town attorney Annemarie Prudenti would become the chief assistant town attorney, and retain her salary of $128,568. She would rank third, followed by fellow deputy town attorney Dan McCormick, whose salary will remain at $119,932.

But the resolutions appointing Ms. Prudenti and Mr. McCormick also were tabled to a future meeting. 

Councilman Ken Rothwell opposed the organizational structure and said the new town attorney should be involved in the making of that structure for his office.

Ms. Aguiar said the proposal just establishes a hierarchy according to civil service.  

Mr. Rothwell and Mr. Hubbard suggested tabling the resolution setting organizational structure. All four council members supported tabling the resolution, with the supervisor voting no. 

Mr. Hubbard also voted to table the resolution appointing a deputy town attorney, saying the new attorney should have a role in the interview process.

Ms. Aguiar and Councilman Bob Kern voted no to tabling, but the table motion prevailed 3-2. 

Ms. Aguiar said the town attorney’s office needs structure. 

“Nobody told me they weren’t going to support this,” she said. “We put a lot of work into this.”

Highway supervisor salary

The Town Board on Tuesday voted to hold a public hearing on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. on a proposal to increase the salary of the town highway superintendent from $94,805 to $114,803.

Residents would have 45 days to decide whether to initiate a petition against the increase. 

Officials said the proposed increase is meant to reflect the town’s assignment of additional duties and responsibilities for the highway supervisor related to additional work in the municipal garage. 

Police promotions

The Town Board promoted Sgt. Jonathan Devereaux of the Riverhead Town Police Department to lieutenant. Other promotions included Sgt. Patrick McDermott to Detective Sgt. and officers Christopher Tam and Charles Cichanowicz to sergeant.

The department has seen a number of retirements in the past year, opening up positions for the promotions.