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Hearing on Incentive for New York State Retirement Program

At the outset of the last New Hyde Park Village Board meeting, Mayor Daniel Petruccio turned the meeting over to village attorney John Spellman to explain the New York State mandated retirement incentive program.

Attorney Spellman said, “From time to time New York State has passed legislation authorizing an incentive bonus retirement program.  The purpose of the program is to allow municipalities to encourage some of their senior and most highly paid employees to secure benefits and to move into a new phase of life thereby opening up the door to new people at lower salaries.

“This program is sponsored by the state and requires the village to conduct a public hearing and to adopt the local laws and to pass a resolution.  There are two parts of this program.  Basically it’s an incentive to employees to give consideration to retiring early.  Part A-is the program which allows employees to gain an additional month of credit, service credit, for every year of service, up to a maximum of three years.”

Spellman continued, “So if a person has been working for 36 years in the retirement system, that person would be permitted to retire with 36 years credit.  The other plan is a 55 and 25 year plan.  In other words, any employee that has at least 25 years  of service and is 55 years-of-age can opt into this program and can retire.  Ordinarily, a person who retires early, prior to age 63, will have a penalty with respect to benefits.  However, that penalty is waived in the case where the person is 55 years old and has 25 years or more of service credit. There is no bonus, but on the other hand there is no penalty.

“So the village has before it tonight two proposed local laws one is Part A and that is the incentive program that will allow an additional months credit for every year of service and the other proposal is Part B which is the 55/25 program and that is when an employee has been working for 25 years and is 55 years old they can retire at whatever the current benefit level is without a reduction of benefits due to early retirement.”

Attorney Spellman said, “So those are the programs we have. The state requires that we conduct a  study to look at the impact that these retirements would have and they have to be positive.  Mainly, a certain percentage of salary has to be saved over a two year period.  Our accounting books have done that analysis and our prediction is to meet that test.  So we have before us tonight those two laws and they will be effective on Sept. 24, 2010 and will be open for 90 days.”

Attorney Spellman then read the two laws into the record.  Mayor Petruccio asked for comments, before voting, from the board and there were none.  He then asked for questions from the public

Rosemary Hudson asked how many people are eligible and how much would it cost the village.

Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro said that actually there were two eligible employees who meet the criteria of the proposed law.

Mayor Petruccio said, “Actually, it will save the village because you will be replacing a senior union employee who is at the top of the scale with an entry level employee.  The board feels that this will be cost-saving for the village.”

Attorney Spellman added, “I would just like to add what this program is not.  It is not an intention to get rid of people who have a lot of years of service and who have made great contributions to the village over time.  But it is rather the opportunity to give them an incentive to take the package because they will get the same benefits they would get in  three years.  And, it is not an age driven program, it is a salary driven program, to see if a better deal can be made economically for the taxpayers, without a reduction of services and that is the type of tight-rope the board walks when it adopts a program like this.

“When a person is hired by a municipality that person has to be given the opportunity to join the New York State Retirement System and once that happens the New York State Retirement System runs the show, it is not the union and it is not the village and the Retirement System makes the rules and the village just has to contribute based on the calculations made by that system.  So, this is an opportunity for the village to gain a benefit and also for the employees.  If we had employees that didn’t want this, I don’t think we would be talking about it.”

The board then closed the hearing and voted to approve both Part A and Part B as outlined.

Regular Meeting
Trustee Richard Coppola Report

New Hyde Park Little League is discussing with the village the fall season and the condition of the parks which is very good.

Project for New Hyde Park Parks is to replace the wood chips at both parks and to replace the rubberized service at Memorial and replacement of swings. 

Summer program which runs Monday to Thursday.  There are 60 younger children in one session and a little less in the afternoon section and all is going well.

Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro

Deputy Mayor Lofaro said, “At our staff meeting we finalized the road improvement.  One of the challenges we have is trying to determine if the monies we have been told we would get from the state we will actually receive.  But, we do know how much money we do have and the project will be Falmouth Avenue, from New Hyde Park Road to the village line and we will do that in conjunction with the Town of North Hempstead with an asphalt overlay.  The work is actually going to be done by the town and we will pay for the labor.   

“We will also do a small section of Terrace Boulevard from Gilford Avenue to Falmouth Avenue.  We received information from our engineers regarding the drainage problem at South 14th Street and 6th Avenue and we know how much that will cost.  Those monies we are getting from a grant by Senator Craig Johnson and we know that money has been appropriated and we will be doing that as well.

“Now that we are in the new budget, we have budgeted for a medium size dump truck with the capability to do sanding and salting during the winter months.  The superintendent is putting together state bids for that truck and we will be going out to bid for that in the near future.

“We are currently in the tree trimmng season and the crews are out now and any trees that need to be done, please call the Department of Public Works.

“Under facilities, the theatre project continues to move forward.  We have submitted the bills to the state totaling about $194,000 and we, in discussion with the state, have been told the monies are there for reimbursement.  But, we will feel much better when we know the money is in our village treasury because we laid out that money.  We also repaired the roof on Marcus Christ Hall because there was a leak and we submitted the bills for that as well.

“There has been some track work on the LIRR and hopefully the piece of track will be welded in the next weeks.  Further, we know that the fence has to be repaired.”

Trustee Donald Barbieri

Trustee Barbieri mentioned that he wanted to thank all those who supported him during the time of a recent procedure that he had in conjunction with his fight of MS. He said, “Thank you all for rooting me on and fortunately, I will be making some progress.”

He said the concerts in the park have been very successful.  On Aug. 19 the program will be finished with Bobby and The Jets, an Elton John type band and it begins at 7 p. m. at Memorial Park, off Lincoln Avenue and Wilton Avenue.

He reported that he attended a meeting in conjunction with the Main Street Project.  He said, “The DOT has changed the rules of the game many times, but I believe that at this meeting we did get the road that will lead us to the finish line on this project.  I am hopeful, based on the meeting, that I can give you a time frame of the spring of 2011 as a time when we can go out to bid on this project.”

Trustee Lawrence Montreuil

Trustee Montreuil said the building department logged 57 permits, a 14 percent increase over last June. The zoning board and had one case and they meet again on Aug. 14.

Mayor Daniel Petruccio

Mayor Petruccio announced that the 15th Annual New Hyde Park Street Fair will be on Sept. 25 with a rain date of Sat. Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at which time Jericho Turnpike will be closed beginning at 5:30 a.m. from New Hyde Park Road to Covert Avenue.  Registration material has been sent out to all merchants to join the fair.

After reading a series of certiorari payments made by the village, the mayor proposed to close the meeting and since there was no further comment from either the board or the public the meeting was closed.

The next meeting will be held on Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m. when a hearing will be held prior to the regular 8 p.m. meeting.