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Glen Cove cop retirements may boost debt

Sgt. Patrick Hall will retire in October from

Sgt. Patrick Hall will retire in October from the Glen Cove Police Department after 28 years. "For me, it was always about helping the people of Glen Cove," he said. (Aug. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

More Glen Cove police retirements could mean more debt for the city as it struggles to pay for unused sick and vacation days and other benefits owed to those leaving.

The City Council next Tuesday in a special meeting will consider issuing up to $1.6 million in bonds for police termination checks -- on top of up to $3.5 million in bonds approved in July for departing cops.

Mayor Ralph Suozzi said several officers declared their retirements just last week.

"Had we known about the police officer retirements, we would have budgeted appropriately in October," when the city spending plan was passed, he said. "We do have an obligation to pay the officers but the manner we do it in . . . is being discussed."

Suozzi said the council needed more time amid superstorm Sandy recovery efforts to discuss its options.

If approved, the $1.6 million would cover four new police retirements as well as "shortages" on departures of which the city was previously aware, Controller Sal Lombardi said. The $3.5 million covered 11 departing police officers and four retirements in other departments, he said.

An audit last month by the state comptroller's office called issuing debt to cover recurring expenses "imprudent" and suggested the city create a termination pay reserve fund.

Police retirements have spiked both because the department is aging and the Police Benevolent Association contract ends Dec. 31, police said.

"Everyone's afraid of what's going to happen in the next contract," former PBA president Sgt. Patrick Hall, who retired in September, said Wednesday. "Those who are staying are rolling the dice."

The police force started 2012 with 52 sworn members. Though the city hired five cops this year, it may be down to 44 or fewer at year's end, current PBA president Officer David Leon said Wednesday.

The department is stretched particularly thin as it works in Sandy's aftermath, Leon said.

"We're running short now, but I think he's going to do the right thing and, hopefully, get some younger officers in here," Leon said of the mayor.

Reflecting on retiring colleagues, Leon said,"We're losing a lot of experience . . . and a lot of them are leaving sooner than they'd want to."

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