Brookhaven Town is offering buyouts to its unionized workforce as the town faces expected revenue losses related to COVID-19.
The “exit incentives,” worth $250 for each year an employee has worked for the town, are intended to help Brookhaven cut costs for the remainder of the year to offset anticipated drops in revenue from fees and mortgage taxes.
Town and union officials said five to 10 employees — mostly those already eligible for retirement — are expected to accept the severance package. The town board on Thursday voted 7-0 to approve the plan.
“We’re no different than anyone else in this pandemic," Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said during the town board meeting, held via a video conferencing call. "We have some revenue shortfalls. We’re pinching every penny. And one of the things we’re doing is offering some of our employees an opportunity to leave a little bit early.
“There’s a small incentive for them to do that, which will save us some money. It will be good for them if they are thinking of retirement.”
The exit package will be offered to all unionized white-collar, blue-collar, Highway Department and management employees who have worked at least five years for the town. Workers must apply for the package by May 11, and terminations will be effective on May 31, town documents said.
Employees awarded the package will receive $250 for each year of full-time employment. A person who worked for Brookhaven for 30 years would be paid $7,500, plus unused vacation and sick pay.
Payments may be made in one lump sum, or, if the accrued pay exceeds $30,000, in installments over three years.
The resolution authorizing the retirement incentive said the town faced "certain fiscal restraints and uncertainties in the upcoming years," but did not specify expected shortfalls.
Jerry Laricchiuta, president of the CSEA's Long Island region, which represents Brookhaven employees, said the package was a fair way to avoid layoffs and provide an economic boost for workers eligible for retirement.
“We appreciate the cooperation with management. Ed Romaine does a good job out there,” he said. “It’s all good because right now, with this pandemic going on, the last thing we need is people losing their jobs. … If this can help incentivize for people to put in [for early retirement] instead of sticking around for another year, that’s the idea behind these things.”
Brookhaven officials have said they expected to see significant reductions in revenue the rest of this year caused by the impact of COVID-19. Anticipated revenue losses could include mortgage tax shortfalls and less money from building fees and landfill tipping fees, officials have said.
In addition, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said the state may have to cut aid to municipalities as part of belt-tightening measures related to the coronavirus.