80 sign up for Oyster Bay retirement deal

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. (Sept. Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. (Sept. 21, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

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Financially strapped Oyster Bay Town has about 80 employees signed up for its early retirement incentive program, Supervisor John Venditto said, with one week to go before the offer's first expiration date.

Venditto, in an interview Monday, said he was hoping that as many as 100 workers would accept the incentive by Aug. 15.

He added that a town pledge to avoid layoffs -- requested by union leaders in concession talks -- was dependent on an increase in takers.

"The success or failure of the program will determine whether the administration is in the position to give the no-layoff clause," he said, "but we need to complete the retirement incentive process to the satisfaction of the administration."

Aug. 15 is the filing deadline for the first of two open periods during which eligible employees can retire with $1,000 per year of service in addition to individual and family lifetime health benefits, accrued sick pay and pensions. They would be off the payroll as of Sept. 1.

Employees who are now eligible to retire but choose not to do so this month won't receive the incentive when they finally do leave, town officials said.

The second deadline, for the newly eligible, is Jan. 15.

The early retirements, along with discretionary cuts and potential concessions by CSEA Local 881 not yet finalized, are meant to help Oyster Bay battle a $13 million shortfall and a lowered Standard & Poor's bond rating.

Neither Venditto nor local union president Robert Rauff Jr. would disclose details of ongoing concession negotiations.

"I can't say we have progressed," Rauff said Monday, adding that negotiations have not regressed, either. "Hopefully we can come to an agreement soon that will be helpful to the town and to the members."

Venditto said, "I believe the administration and the union have the best interests of the town at heart."

Union and town representatives have met six or seven times since June, Rauff said.

He said union leaders have urged members toward the incentive program.

"We say, 'Start your new lives,' " he said. "Most of them are very open-minded about being helpful to the town."

About 280 employees aged 55 or older with at least five years on the job are eligible for the incentive, town officials said. The number includes employees of every department and nonunion workers.

Venditto has said the program could result in $10 million in recurring savings -- but not without enough volunteers.

The total of about 80 takers so far, he said, "is very encouraging, but not quite there yet. It's not quite satisfactory."

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