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Long IslandSuffolk

Levy slams Lindsay for delay on retirement plan

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy charged Thursday that Presiding Officer William Lindsay's delay in moving forward with his retirement plan will cost taxpayers $1.2 million every two weeks.

But Lindsay fired back, accusing Levy of "using schoolyard bully tactics" and "largely illusory" saving estimates.

The two top officials traded charges over the proposed sale of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank for $36 million. Levy's attack came after the county legislature Tuesday defeated his emergency resolution to adopt the state incentives to save $10 million to $13 million.

Deputy County Executive for Finance Connie Corso warned that if lawmakers persist in adding nursing home workers to the retirement incentives, Levy will drop plans for $2.2 million in transition aid for those displaced by the proposed nursing home sale.

"Under Bill Lindsay's union-friendly leadership, the tail continues to wag the dog time and time again," Levy said. "The presiding officer chose the nuclear option to block all early retirements, and hurt more than 400 county employees who may have taken advantage of this plan."

Lindsay, however, said Levy's use of the $1.2-million figure "is based on the ridiculous assumption every county worker will take the buyout on the first day and that's just not going to happen."

The county executive has balked at including nursing home workers because all the jobs would have to be refilled because of state staffing requirements. Levy also barred those in law enforcement, federally aided jobs and revenue-making jobs from taking part. Levy's proposal limits refilling vacancies to 20 percent.

Lindsay wants to see the 80 to 100 nursing home workers eligible for retirement included because of the potential sale. "If we decide to sell the place it would be foolish of us not to allow these folks to take advantage of the program," Lindsay said. If the payroll is cut with retirements, Lindsay said part-time workers who get no benefits could fill in if the sale goes through.

Corso said such a plan would be unworkable and amount to the "privatization" that some lawmakers have opposed. "It would mean we would have to pay all of the exit pay, get none of the savings and have no one to run the nursing home," Corso said.

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