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City Proposes to Ease Eligibility, Age Requirements for Managers

Exempt employees could leave with lifetime medical benefits after five years of service with the city.

Long Beach City Hall. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
Long Beach City Hall. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)

The City Council on Tuesday tabled City Manager Jack Schnirman’s proposed resolution that would allow full-time management employees to leave or retire from the city after five years of service with full medical benefits, including for their families.

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Presently, these exempt employees, who are not covered under a collective bargaining agreement, are eligible for lifetime medical benefits on their retirement after 15 years of service with the city at age 55, or after 30 years of collective service. Schnirman proposes to amend the city’s code of ordinances to allow exempt employees with a total of 10 years of 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 without an age requirement or the need to retire.

The proposal also calls for reducing the amount of benefits, including allowable accrued sick and vacation time, afforded to exempt employees, who otherwise contribute a portion of their healthcare costs, Schnirman noted.

“We’ve got less management here in Long Beach, and we’ve cut, cut, cut since we walked in the door, and we’re cutting further with this resolution,” he said.

Schnirman promoted the proposal as an effort to recruit and retain “talent” for exempt employees, who he said are without any job security and few of whom last more than five years in Long Beach, in contrast to members of the city’s various unions.  

“Why would they take the risk that there is no job security as a management employee here,” Schnirman said of high-paid state employees who may consider taking management positions in Long Beach. “So it’s a very difficult proposition to recruit folks, as opposed to the labor force where they have a very secure situation.”

During the public comments on resolution, resident Kevin Heller said some potential employees may want a position in Long Beach simply because they know they can get paid well.

“As long as they’re here, they keep their job if they do a good job, and it goes on their resume if they move on to another job,” Heller said. “So they might see that as just an attractive job. Many people in the general workforce don’t have any job security.”

Schnirman also said the proposal, as it relates to defining qualified retirees, would bring the city in line with Nassau County and other municipalities, calling it a model that works in these municipalities and has bipartisan support throughout the region.

Eileen Hessien, a West Beech Street resident, said the proposal didn’t seem responsible, especially when the high cost of medical insurance is taken into account. “And if Nassau County is doing it, let’s look at Nassau County, which is not in great fiscal shape right now, right, for this type of reason,” she added.

If approved, the proposal would immediately take effect and apply to current exempt employees and those who were hired after Dec. 17, 2013. Presently, seven of the city’s 20 management employees would qualify for the proposal. Schnirman said the measure would not impact the current budget because it involves an “extremely small amount of employees who could some day, over a period of decades, retire.”

In March 2011, the Republican-majority City Council proposed a similar measure but that didn’t come to a vote, and which Councilman Len Torres was critical of at the time. On Tuesday, Torres asked Schnirman for a projected cost for his proposal, so that the city could answer constituents’ questions about it.

“How much is this going to cost us,” Torres said. “We’re not getting a dollar amount.”

Patrick McGuire, a West Hudson Street resident, who recalled the 2011 proposal, also asked Schnirman if he know how much his proposal was going to cost.

Schnirman told Torres that a cost estimate would involve “a lot of guess work,” and reiterated to McGuire the uncertainty involved, since currently it would affect seven employees who may leave at some point “between now and eternity,” he said.  

John Wims, a West Chester Street resident, painted a scenario in which a person could serve in the military from ages 18 to 25, after which he could get hired as a manager and work for the city from ages 25 to 30, and then retire with lifetime medical benefits.

“Five years of service and then leave with free medical for the rest of your life — somebody has to pay for that and I don’t think right now, the way things are in the city, that we could afford to pay for that,” Wims said.

City Council President Scott Mandel made a motioned to table the proposal for the Jan. 21 meeting, saying that there are “some variables here that we need to answer to.” His fellow council members voted to return to the proposal on that date.
Hamburger December 22, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Probably would have happened if the repubs had won as well
Robert P Martin December 22, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Without doubt..........rep/dem no difference.
Penquin December 22, 2013 at 04:54 PM
I don't think so - I had a lot of faith in the finance guy who was running Mike Franchesini. His background is amazing and no one of that stature would allow that to happen.
Jessica December 22, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Let me see who qualifies jack, kari, Corey, Robinson, gordie, Dpw commish, nogid.. There it is all seven how many are political? Ummm 7
joe December 22, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Add Piazza and Matterson to the list.
Jessica December 23, 2013 at 07:21 AM
Here is the math they work for 5 years instead of the current 15 years and they will cost the city $20k annual health cost times 10 years will be $200,000 and for 7 people $1.4 million. What exactly did these people do to deserve health insurance for life? They have not dedicated their career to log beach at all instead they are bankrupting the city!
moe December 23, 2013 at 08:06 AM
Jessica I actually think its way more than that when you take into account the lifetime cost and then add in the fact that this covers their families as well. You number is the increased cost of going from 15 down to 5, which is bad enough, carry that out over a lifetime if they leave the city and this gets really crazy!
Hamburger December 23, 2013 at 10:54 AM
yeah, but this is how we attract "talent" and get them to stay!
moe December 23, 2013 at 11:43 AM
If by "talent" you mean political hack appointees then of course. The public need to start demanding better resumes to fill open positions. And don't give me bs that you can't get them cause the private sector is all at will employment and they have no problems retaining top talent. Of course they have top talent all around which is part of the problem in LB, you bring ina ssmart guy/woman and they are surrounded by do nothings they want out, especially when they are told they can't get rid of the low performers .
Penquin December 23, 2013 at 02:17 PM
In this economy, the talent is out there. It's an employers market. This health plan benefit actually encourages turnover.
joe December 23, 2013 at 05:19 PM
You would need dynamite to get any of the Dem hacks to leave. There is no need to increase their benefits. Are these guys planning on hiring more hacks to made up management positions? The only way the current exempts will leave is if and when we vote the Dems out.
Penquin December 23, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Joe, what you are saying is 100% true. But we cannot afford to wait two years until the next election. We need to make our voices heard now - loud and clear. The question remains what is the best and most effective way to prevent this from happening. Does it take a petition, or some other way. Thank you
Jessica December 23, 2013 at 09:35 PM
All of these hacks had positions in government prior to comig to long beach. Actually they could work a year here and have 4 years from Brookhaven and leave wih a lifetime of health benefits. What a scam!
Robert P Martin December 23, 2013 at 11:05 PM
The only way out of this mess is to turn it all over to Hempstead but even they may not want to get involved with this level of self serving pigs.
Hamburger December 26, 2013 at 08:19 AM
Per today's Newsday, a list of top public workers pay compensation shows LB at the top of the list. Check out in particular: Payroll per capita and Avg payroll. Very compelling and very troubling. Newsday.com/2012payrolls
Eddie December 26, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Tangney, chief of police 2013: $302,000.
Hamburger December 27, 2013 at 08:39 AM
We are proposing that we install GPS devices on all city owned vehicles in order to track their usage
Penquin December 27, 2013 at 09:22 AM
And two LB cops made more than Tangney according to the article. I believe the $302 includes his fringe benefits which makes the number more nauseating.
Mona Goodman January 06, 2014 at 02:17 PM
Yes, paul.d.spellman, I put up a very big fuss about that agenda item and we pulled it when I was on the Council. But this item is even more dangerous and costly.
jv January 06, 2014 at 03:28 PM
Don't forget the $15,000 sewer each of you will have to pay for. Thjat's going to be voted on too!
paul.d.spellman January 06, 2014 at 05:08 PM
Mona, What savant that you hired placed such a ridiculous item on the agenda in the first place?
Hamburger January 06, 2014 at 07:02 PM
No matter, how do we stop this one?
paul.d.spellman January 06, 2014 at 07:13 PM
Burger Meister, That is very simple, we all show up on Jan 21 and when Ms Goodman speaks in opposition we all stand in unity with her. She will be making a very "big fuss" at this meeting won't she?
Mona Goodman January 08, 2014 at 02:51 PM
Yes, I will. And if everyone who also opposes the agenda item stands when I'm speaking it would be very much appreciated. Thank you for the excellent suggestion Mr. Spellman!
paul.d.spellman January 08, 2014 at 03:09 PM
Gordie, Can you check to see if shows of solidarity are permitted during council meetings? If not please let Mr Mandel know what to expect on the 21st.
jv January 08, 2014 at 05:15 PM
Only the speaker is permitted to stand. The police can remove any others who choose to stand while the speaker is talking. They can be charged as disorderly and defying a lawful order, interfering with governmental administration.
Penquin January 08, 2014 at 10:33 PM
How can we get national press on this unethical proposal? Would the Wall Street Journal find this proposal reprehensible, especially in light of the current economy? There are so many of you that are wonderful writers with an in-depth understanding of our city. Or perhaps someone has a professional contact who would be interested in current and past Patch articles? I don't like painting a picture of our city in a bad light - its not good for any of us. But how and where do we draw the line?
Hamburger January 09, 2014 at 12:13 AM
5 years of employment = free lifetime medical benefits for self and family? Really?
jv January 09, 2014 at 09:21 AM
No media outlet would criticize a Democrat tax-raising and spending initiative. The time to draw the line was on election day and you re-elected these thieves. Just wait and see what's next: A $15,000 sewer replacement "tax" on every homeowner, getting voted in on January 21. More new taxes to fund LB Economic Development Corp. A dozen new management jobs for Democratic hacks ousted from Suffolk. A new Boardwalk Operating Authority and its officers and employees. Three more huge tax increases. No help on the $10,000 flood insurance tax.
Penquin January 09, 2014 at 04:45 PM
No - I didn't re-elect these thieves, and I do want to help. I cannot get over the greediness.

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