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Nassau GOP lawmakers move to limit termination pay for non-union workers

The Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building, the

The Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building, the seat of government in Nassau, is shown in Mineola on Nov. 20, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Majority Republicans in the  Nassau County Legislature are moving to cut in half the payouts for unused sick and vacation time for nonunion workers who leave county service.

A bill introduced Wednesday by Legis. Denise Ford, a registered Democrat from Long Beach who caucuses with Republicans, followed a Newsday report that showed Nassau paid more than $2.5 million to 75 nonunion employees who exited after Democrat Laura Curran's election last November. Seven of the employees were paid more than $100,000 each, according to county records.

Top payouts went to high-ranking administration officials who worked in key departments in the administration of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican who served two terms from 2010 until the end of last year.

The recipient of the highest payout was former Deputy County Executive Edward Ward, a Mangano spokesman who received $195,648. Former Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, who has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges and faces a January 2019 trial, was paid $186,673.

Under the GOP bill, nonunion employees hired on or after Oct. 1  would be eligible for termination pay for up to 40 unused vacation days and 85 sick days. Under current county law, nonunion workers hired after Aug. 15, 2014, can be paid for a maximum of 75 vacation days and 175 sick days upon termination; employees hired before that date are eligible to be paid for a maximum of 90 vacation days and 200 sick days.

“When people read these things, or hear these things, they go out of their mind,” Ford said in an interview. “The most important thing is to protect the residents, and the taxpayer, and I hope that this small measure will show that we are.”

Although payouts were doled out according to county law, "It’s hard on a lot of the residents to understand when we give hefty payouts to people when they leave employment in Nassau County, it’s a benefit a lot of regular folks don't get,” Ford said.

She said the county should continue to provide the termination benefits, in order to attract qualified job candidates. But she said her bill shows “we are listening to the residents, and we will still give them a payout, but it won’t be as much as it has been in the past.”

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) called the GOP bill "a step in the right direction. It’s almost too little too late."

Karen Contino, a Curran spokeswoman, said, "We just received the legislation and we will actively review it. Any legislation that saves taxpayers’ money is important to the fiscal health of Nassau County."

Ford said the legislature's Rules Committee is expected to consider her bill on Sept. 12.

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