The Glen Cove City Council has approved a plan to pay civil service union members to resign or retire, a voluntary separation program the mayor said would save money.
"You're replacing employees with [new employees] earning lower salaries, plus you're bringing in new blood and fresh ideas," Mayor Reginald Spinello said after the meeting Tuesday night. "You're rewarding people for their service and giving new people new opportunities."
In November, Moody's Investors said the city's financial operations had been stabilizing in the past two years and its budgeting practices had improved. Moody's revised Glen Cove's credit rating outlook upward from negative to stable. The rating agency downgraded the city in 2011 to Baa3, one notch above junk-bond status, citing fiscal distress and recurring deficits.
Spinello, a Republican, said Tuesday that 65 employees whose salaries totaled $4.2 million were eligible. Members of the Civil Service Employees Association who have been on the job for at least 10 years can apply; workers must do so by Feb. 14.
Workers who accept the incentive would receive 1 percent of their 2014 base salary multiplied by the number of years they've served. The buyouts would be capped at 20 percent of this year's base salary. Spinello's office declined Wednesday to release its calculations of what the payments would be for each eligible worker who accepted the buyout. The possible payout amounts were included in the agreement, which the City Council unanimously approved without having seen it.
Council member Nicholas DiLeo, a Democrat, said it had been discussed in a meeting last week and during the Tuesday night meeting.
City Council member Michael Famiglietti, a Democrat, said he would have liked to see the agreement in advance. "My questions that I asked the mayor and the CSEA representative were sufficient for me to understand the details at that time, but certainly more time would have been preferred," he said.
Local CSEA president Martin Cook, whose group represents about 110 workers in Glen Cove, said the mayor's office approached the union about the deal earlier this month. Cook said the incentive could push some on the fence about retiring to make the choice but doubted there would be more than a dozen takers.
"Why would you take it unless you wanted to retire?" Cook said.
Spinello said the city probably would borrow to make termination payments, a separate cost that takes into account unused vacation and sick days.
When he was a city council member in 2012, Spinello criticized a plan to borrow $1.1 million to pay termination payments for retiring police. "We don't want to place any additional burden on taxpayers," he said at the time, though he voted in favor of the plan.
Tuesday night he expressed no reservations about the cost of borrowing, which he said would be minimal and short term.