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Friday, December 19, 2014
Updated
A better deal for city’s top staff?
City proposal would ease benefit eligibility and age requirements for exempt employees
Herald file photo

The City Council hit the pause button on a proposed resolution that would give a number of the city’s full-time management employees with a minimum of five years of employment in the city — regardless of their age — and their families lifetime health care benefits upon separation from their employment with the city or when they retire.

City Council President Scott Mandel said that members needed more time to consider the proposal made by City Manager Jack Schnirman, who said that the move is aimed at attracting and retaining qualified employees in a city where a change in administrations often impacts job security. The council agreed to revisit the measure at its Jan. 21 meeting.***

Currently, exempt employees — such as the city manager and department heads —with 15 years of service who are not covered under a collective bargaining agreement are eligible for such health benefits when they retire at age 55.

But the resolution would amend the city’s ordinances to allow exempt employees with a total of 10 years of state, municipal or military service — including a minimum of five years with the city — regardless of age, to collect lifetime health care benefits, including coverage for their families. Schnirman 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. The change would apply to current exempt employees and those who were hired after Dec. 17.

The proposal came just minutes after 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.

Schnirman: A needed incentive

“Very, very, very few management employees make it five years in Long Beach, let alone 10,” Schnirman said. “Whereas our union partners tend to have careers of 20-plus years, very few management employees either stay or are able to be kept that long. This is an attempt, as others have done, to try to keep them.”

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