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With long careers over, three Hempstead employees move on

From left, Town of Hempstead employees Maureen Willix,

From left, Town of Hempstead employees Maureen Willix, Tom Cittadino and Brad Holland pose for a photo outside Hempstead Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. All three employees are taking the town's early retirement package. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Brad Holland figured he’d spend a few years working for the Town of Hempstead after he graduated from college in 1979 before moving on.

Thirty-seven years later, it’s time.

Holland is one of 82 town employees who took an early retirement incentive, as of last Friday morning. The program hopes to trim at least 100 jobs and cut $10 million from the $422.7 million 2017 budget, Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino said.

Soon after graduating from Hofstra University, Holland started as a “very low rung on the ladder” in the town’s communications office during the days of Town Supervisor Alfonse D’Amato, who was just kicking off his campaign for the U.S. Senate. He retires as events coordinator in the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“It was a great way to get your feet wet,” said Holland, 61, of Rockville Centre. “Everything seemed so big-time and wow to me.”

While the town is Holland’s first — and only — employer, it’s not the same story for Tom Cittadino. He took a buyout to retire from the U.S. Postal Service in 2004 and soon after started with the town as a part-time maintenance mechanic. He retires from the Department of General Services.

“This is my last retirement, this is it,” Cittadino said laughing.

The 66-year-old East Rockaway resident decided to take the buyout on Oct. 11. He was on the fence for awhile and still wonders about the decision.

“Am I doing the right thing? Am I going to have enough money to do what I want to do?”

In the end, he wanted to visit family in New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. And see more of his wife of 48 years, Darlene.

“We’re still very much in love and want to spend time with each other,” he said.

Maureen Willix is also retiring to spend more time with her spouse, a disabled former New York City police officer. She’d already been mulling retirement, but the buyout incentive gave her a “push” to do it.

“It’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise,” she said.

Willix, 76, of North Bellmore, started working for the town in 1989 at age 50. She learned of an opening from a friend; at the time, Willix was working as an elementary school monitor.

She’d only planned to work for the town for five years. Now, after more than 25 years, she’s the one processing the early retirement paperwork for the human resources department as the principal personnel clerk.

Santino said this is the second year in a row that the early retirement incentive has been offered to cut costs. In 2015, 57 town employees took the incentive, saving the town $6.4 million in the 2016 budget.

The incentive — a one-time payout of 1 percent of the employee’s current salary for every year they’ve worked for the town — was aimed to induce senior employees with high salaries to retire. But the option was open to all employees, even if they weren’t of retirement age. Employees have until Nov. 10 to notify the town that they are taking the buyout. They will be off the payroll on Nov. 13.

Some of the jobs won’t be replaced, while others will be filled with junior employees who are paid less.

“We’ve been very focused on the bottom line, on expenditures, on cutting costs,” Santino said. “It’s a move that’s designed to be very taxpayer-friendly.”

Holland, Cittadino and Willix said they’ll miss their co-workers, but they’re looking forward to their time off.

“I’m OK with not getting up every morning at the crack of dawn and putting on a suit and tie,” Holland said.

Name: Brad Holland

Age: 61

Home: Rockville Centre

Official Title: Events coordinator in the Department of Parks and Recreation

Did you know: Holland has long harbored dreams of being a sports writer.

Name: Tom Cittadino

Age: 66

Home: East Rockaway

Official Title: Engineering helper in the Department of General Services

Did you know: Cittadino is an East Rockaway firefighter and a former chief of the department.

Name: Maureen Willix

Age: 76

Home: North Bellmore

Official Title: Principal personnel clerk in the Department of Human Resources

Did you know: Willix was hired on-the-spot as a part-time clerical aide in 1989.

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