Council scraps proposed benefits plan for top staff

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Schnirman, who was hired by the Democratic administration two years ago, said that the number of current management employees is at a low, after the new administration made a number of cuts upon taking office. He had also recommended changing the amount of benefits afforded to management employees, specifically by reducing the allowable accrued sick and vacation time and bringing the city into line with Nassau County and other municipalities as it relates to qualified retirees.

Schnirman said that while the measure would have applied to 20 management employees, only seven were eligible. He added that exempt employees are currently paying a portion of their healthcare costs, which had not been done previously.

Last month’s proposal was floated on the same night that the council approved a 15-year, $6.5 million bond measure to pay for mandatory retroactive salaries to members of the Long Beach Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and extended the city’s contract with the Civil Service Employees Association.

A number of residents raised concerns about how the change in benefits would impact the city financially, while others called it “irresponsible” and an “outrageous perk” in a city that’s recovering from a fiscal crisis.

In 2011, Councilman Len Torres and some other Democrats criticized the previous Republican-led administration when it briefly considered a similar proposal that was ultimately scrapped and not brought up to a vote. Last month, Torres asked what the latest proposal would cost the city. Schnirman said that it was too early to project such costs, but explained that the move would not have impacted the city’s budget “at this time.”

“You’re talking about a maximum of seven employees who, sometime over the next however many years, could at some point retire,” Schnirman had said.

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