Oyster Bay rehires more retirees

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012.

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012. (Credit: Nicole Bartoline)

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Oyster Bay officials have filled two vacant zoning board posts from their pool of pensioned recent retirees -- despite a statement last week that the town was done rehiring.

Rita Byrne and Kathleen Mulligan, who each made nearly $100,000 in their full-time positions at the highway and parks departments, now are getting $22,550 each as the newest members of the zoning board of appeals.

They have joined a trio of top-level town retirees who recently returned to work: parks Commissioner James Byrne, highway and public works Commissioner Richard Betz and public information officer James Moriarty.


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John Capobianco, spokesman for the Oyster Bay Democratic Committee, slammed the rehires as typical of a Republican "ol' boys club," saying the workers, all Republicans, are being "triple-paid between their pensions, buyouts and stipends."

Town Deputy Supervisor Leonard Genova said last week that "there are no plans" to bring back retirees after Byrne, Betz and Moriarty. He said on Wednesday that he had not considered appointments in his response.

"As it relates to appointments for vacancies on a board, I do view that differently than someone coming back as a commissioner of public works who in effect is there day to day, 365 days a year," he said.

Rita Byrne, who is not related to James Byrne, was a town code enforcement inspector, making $99,332 when she retired in August. Mulligan was James Byrne's secretary until she retired in August from a salary of $97,649.

The town board on Tuesday unanimously approved the zoning board appointments.

The five rehires took retirement incentives last fall that were intended to help the town dig itself out of a fiscal hole that includes $828 million in overall debt.

The five are keeping their buyouts, a total $152,000 for their 152 collective years of service, as well as their pensions.

Mulligan and Rita Byrne earn annual pensions of $55,108 and $72,402, respectively, the state comptroller's office said.

The rehires are within state rules, as each earns less than $30,000, the most permissible without losing their pensions.

Capobianco raised questions about the town's approach to filling vacancies: "Why not bring in someone younger who needs the money?"

The recent turnover is "a chance to change the status quo," he said, "but it's the good ol' boys club in Oyster Bay."

Genova said Mulligan and Byrne are uniquely qualified and "know the fabric and the flavor of their communities . . . They have the best interests of the town at heart and share a governmental philosophy with the town supervisor."

Genova has said the town is saving on salaries and benefits while retaining experienced staff.Returning retirees

James Byrne, parks commissioner

2012 salary: $150,125

Buyout: $40,000

Pension: $107,340

Current part-time salary: Up to $30,000

Richard Betz, highway and public works commissioner

2012 salary: $136,303

Buyout: $39,000

Pension: $97,387

Current part-time salary: Up to $30,000

James Moriarty, public information officer

2012 salary: $142,211

Buyout: $14,000

Pension: $99,188

Current part-time salary: Up to $30,000

Rita Byrne, former town code enforcement inspector, current zoning board member

2012 salary: $99,332

Buyout: $34,000

Pension: $72,402

Current part-time salary: $22,550

Kathleen Mulligan, former secretary to the parks commissioner, current zoning board member

2012 salary: $97,649

Buyout: $25,000

Pension: $55,108

Current part-time salary: $22,550

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