Schnirman, who was hired by the Democratic administration two years ago, said that the number of current management employees are at a low, after the new administration made a number of cuts upon taking office. He added that exempt employees are currently paying a portion of their healthcare costs, which had not been done previously.
“They’re expected to work as many hours as needed, and that certainly means something after the storm,” he said. “They do not have any job security and serve at will, at the pleasure of the city manager. They don’t have that security and as a result they tend not to have the longevity that are afforded to members of the various unions that we have here in the city. When we can’t offer job security, and we’re looking to recruit and retain talent here in Long Beach, this modification of a pre-existing benefit can be helpful.”
Schnirman said that the move would not impact the city’s budget “at this time, as you’re talking about an extremely small amount of employees who could someday, over a period of decades, retire. The shelf life of a management employee tends to be a lot shorter than a civil service employee.”
Schnirman said that while there are currently 20 management employees, only seven are currently eligible. “You’re talking about a maximum of seven employees who, sometime over the next however many years, could at some point retire,” he said.
Councilman Len Torres, a Democrat who criticized the previous Republican-led administration in 2011 when it briefly considered a similar proposal that was ultimately scrapped, asked what the measure would cost the city.
“We’re not getting a dollar amount,” Torres said.
Though Schnirman said that it was too early to project such costs, a number of residents raised concerns about how the changes would impact the city, which is recovering from a fiscal crisis.
“Medical coverage right now is very, very expensive,” said resident John Wims. “But five years of service and leaving with free medical for the rest of your life, somebody has to pay for that. And I don’t think that right now, with the way things are in the city, that we can afford to pay for that.”