Still on the job, Southold Town clerk to take state pension

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Town Clerk Betty Neville being sworn in to a fifth four-year term Thursday morning in Town Hall.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Town Clerk Betty Neville being sworn in to a fifth four-year term Thursday morning in Southold Town Hall.

Longtime Southold Town Clerk Betty Neville is retiring — well, sort of.

She’s retiring from “the system,” she explained to The Suffolk Times in Town Hall on Thursday, just a few hours after she was sworn in for another four-year term.

That means she’ll start collecting a state pension while continuing to serve as an elected official — as is allowed under state law, she said.

“It’s my option to do that and continue; a lot of people do this,” she said.

Ms. Neville said the move will save the town money, as it will no longer be making pension contributions as part of her salary and benefits moving forward.

“Were voting on accepting the retirement of Elizabeth Neville,” said Southold Superivsor Scott Russell. “At the same time she’s just been elected to a four-year term and she expects to serve that term.”

He also said her pension is now fixed, and she cannot have it raised based on any additional earnings with the town.

Since Ms. Neville first served as a civil servant with the town, from 1968 to 1997, before getting elected and taking over as town clerk in 1998, she’s also entitled to accrued sick and vacation time that amounted to a one-time payout of $27,350.

She said she was only informed by someone about a year ago that she had an option to take her payout and pension while still serving as an elected leader, for which she’ll earn a salary of $97,181 in 2014, town records show.

The Town Board approved a resolution granting her retirement — which she applied for on Dec. 31 — at the Thursday afternoon Town Board meeting.

According to the resolution, her accumulated payout was figured using the collective bargaining agreement that was in place on Dec. 31, 1997, when she last served as civil servant as deputy town clerk. She was elected as town clerk that same year and started the following January.

She said she wanted to assure the public, however, that she is not leaving Town Hall.

“I’m not retiring,” she said. “It’s business as usual.”

Ms. Neville, a Republican, has never faced a political opponent, having been elected five times while running unopposed. She’s held her seat in Town Hall since 1997, when she was nominated to replace Judith Terry, to whom she had served as deputy town clerk.

Southold Democrats have not run a candidate for Town Clerk since 1981.

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