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NIFA approves Nassau retirement incentive program

The Theodore Roosevelt Building in Mineola, where the

The Theodore Roosevelt Building in Mineola, where the Nassau County Legislature meets, as seen on Oct. 2, 2009. Photo Credit: Newsday / Howard Schnapp

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority on Tuesday approved a retirement incentive program for county workers to help reduce staff and payroll costs for years to come.

The oversight board met to discuss the cost-saving measure and other matters, including renewing funding for legal assistance for the poor, at the Marriott Long Island Hotel in Uniondale.

NIFA’s green light follows the unanimous approval of the plan by county legislators last week.

The Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, as the retirement plan is called, could save millions of dollars each year, said Evan Cohen, NIFA’s executive director.

It is similar to previous initiatives, including one administered in 2015, he said, but it requires union employees, who are members of the Civil Service Employees Association, to have at least 10 years of service, and it limits hiring back into those vacant positions to 50 percent of the open posts.

“I think it’s something worth doing,” said Adam Barsky, NIFA chairman.

Cohen said as many as 247 employees had signed up for the program as of Monday, their annual salaries totaling about $17 million. The 50 percent limit on backfilling those positions means the $17 million in savings could only be reduced by about half that amount, especially since most new hires would start at lower salaries.

And that savings would be realized “into perpetuity,” Cohen said.

Eric Naughton, Nassau deputy county executive for finance, said the employees who had submitted paperwork saying they intended to retire had an average 26 years of service, and that some of them earned salaries above $100,000. Retirees would get $1,000 for each year of service and have until Sept. 15 to sign up.

Officials said the incentive was offered in response to an order from NIFA in June to cut $100 million in spending from the county’s 2018 budget — or 7 percent from 2017 levels.

The board also approved a $14 million two-year contract for the Legal Aid Society, which represents the indigent in court.

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