The Long Beach City Council has backed off a proposal that would have reduced eligibility requirements for retirement benefits aimed at management employees.
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Exempt management employees, who are not covered under a collective bargaining agreement, are presently eligible for lifetime medical benefits on their retirement after 15 years of service with the city at age 55, or after a collective 30 years of service.
Last month, City Manager Jack Schnirman proposed to amend the city’s code of ordinances to allow manager with a total of 10 years service — including a minimum of five years with the city and five years previously with the state, another municipality or the military — to collect lifetime medical benefits, for themselves and their families, without an age requirement or the need to retire. The proposal also called for reducing the amount of benefits, includ including allowable accrued sick and vacation time, afforded to exempt employees, who otherwise contribute 10 percent their healthcare costs.
When Schnirman first presented the proposal at the Dec. 17 meeting, he said that the measure was intended to recruit and retain qualified employees, that seven of the city’s 20 management employees would qualify for the proposal, and that it wouldn’t impact the current budget.
But several residents criticized the proposal as unaffordable, considering that the city is still struggling financially in the wake of a financial crisis and Hurricane Sandy.
Council President Scott Mandel called to table the proposal until the Jan. 21 meeting. But the resolution was not included on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, which was postponed to Wednesday due to inclement weather. Mandel said in a statement:
“The City Council does not support the proposal and has asked the city manager to look at alternative methods for retaining and recruiting top talent as the months and years go forward. We remain focused like a laser beam on the city's physical and fiscal recovery.”
While Schnirman said last week that the proposal would need major revisions before seeing a vote, city council members this week indicated they may not want to see the proposal again, according to Newsday. Said Councilman Len Torres: