Garden City Village's board has approved $264,138 in termination pay to former village administrator Robert L. Schoelle, who held the village post for 34 years until he left March 31.
The board approved the payout 5-0 at its meeting last night. Three board members were absent. A total of $305,910 will be transferred from its termination reserve account to pay benefits for Schoelle and other executive staff accrued before Jan. 1, 2013. Two residents asked about the reasoning for the payout, but did not oppose it.
The termination payout is in accordance with previous executive compensation plans that allowed accrued benefits to be withdrawn before retirement. Under an amended agreement, the executive staff is no longer entitled to accrue additional termination benefits, village officials said.
"It's unused vacation from way back," Schoelle, who was not at the meeting, said during a phone interview. "The amount is covered in the resolution between the board of trustees and the executive staff. It is our compensation package and benefits package."
Schoelle was paid more than $200,000 a year as village administrator. He is now serving as a consultant on an hourly basis for a maximum of $5,000 to assist new administrator Ralph Suozzi, who was hired last month, in the transition. Suozzi, whose new salary is $190,000 per year, was paid $100,000 annually when he was mayor of Glen Cove.
After the meeting, Mayor John Watras spoke highly of Schoelle, saying "he did a wonderful job for 34 years. It was time for him to move forwards and we love him."
Schoelle, 70, of Garden City, officially retired on April 30, 2008. Last year, he received $139,220 from the New York State Employees Retirement System, plus his village salary as he continued on in his job.
"It's been a wonderful opportunity," said Schoelle, who continues to get health benefits for which he contributes 15 percent. "It has been a great community and I have enjoyed every minute of my service with the village."
Schoelle said he has lived in Garden City, where he raised his three children, since 1971 with his wife. He worked as Garden City's deputy village clerk for eight years from 1968 to 1976. He then went to Rockville Centre until he returned to work for Garden City in 1980, he said.