Oyster Bay supervisor: Layoffs a certainty
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The 89 Oyster Bay employees accepting an early retirement incentive will not be enough to avoid layoffs, Supervisor John Venditto said Thursday.
Although 7 percent of the town's 1,261 workers agreed to a buyout, Venditto had been hoping that 100 workers would leave and the union would agree to concessions to save the financially strapped town $10 million annually and eliminate the need for layoffs.
"The retirement incentive was helpful but fell short of our financial goals," Venditto said. "Enough employees retired so that the incentive, coupled with requested union concessions, would have put the administration in a position to give a no-layoff clause" for the remaining three years of the contract.
"Unfortunately, because the union was unwilling to give these much-needed concessions," he continued, "layoffs are now a certainty. A tax increase, which would shift the burden of recovery to our already hard-pressed residents, is out of the question."
CSEA Local 881 did not respond to requests for comment.
Those taking the incentive -- $1,000 per year of service in addition to individual and family lifetime health benefits, accrued sick pay and pensions -- have to be off the payroll by Sept. 1. But they can rescind their paperwork until then. About 280 employees ages 55 or older with at least five years on the job were eligible. Oyster Bay plans to cover the retirement costs with bonds to be repaid over 10 years.
Among those planning to leave are Highway Commissioner Richard Betz, Superintendent of Environmental Control Eric Swenson and communications director James Moriarty.
Venditto has blamed the town's financial straits on the ongoing national recession. Oyster Bay is struggling to cope with a $13-million budget shortfall and its bond rating being lowered in June three notches to A by Standard & Poor's.
In its most recent report July 27, Standard & Poor's said, "Due to Oyster Bay's recent history of optimistic budget assumptions and operating deficits, there is some uncertainty regarding the town's ability to restore fiscal stability in fiscal 2013 . . . "
Hundreds of Local 881 members last week packed two standing-room-only meetings in Oyster Bay hamlet and Plainview with emotional questions about the union's talks with the town on possible concessions. Some were fearful about cuts to their benefits or layoffs; others were angry that the town had burdened them with helping to solve its financial troubles through possible pay freezes.
Local 881 president Robert Rauff Jr. and other leaders assured the restless crowds that neither layoffs nor benefits cuts had been raised by the town. They added that the union would not stand for layoffs, earning loud applause.
With Emily Ngo
OYSTER BAY BUYOUTS
89 of 1,261 town employees have put in their papers to take a buyout. They come from the following departments:
Public works -- 16 of 349 employees
Parks -- 15 of 245
Highway -- 13 of 197
Community and youth services -- 9 of 66
Planning -- 7 of 77
General services -- 5 of 45
Receiver of taxes -- 5 of 18
Environmental resources -- 4 of 51
Intergovernmental affairs -- 4 of 24
Town board -- 3 of 27
Comptroller -- 2 of 36
Human resources -- 2 of 14
Public safety -- 2 of 56
Clerk -- 1 of 17
Supervisor -- 1 of 16
None of the town attorney's 23 staffers is leaving.