The Rockland County Legislature Budget & Finance Committee discussed and then pulled four resolutions from their agenda Tuesday night, all dealing with the targeted voluntary separation incentive program.
The program offers employees buyouts in positions that won’t be refilled. The resolutions on Tuesday were going to set up the program for the following year with the Rockland Association of Management (RAM), non-union salaried members who follow RAM, the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and non-union, non-management employees.
During the meeting, Budget & Finance Chair Michael Grant said 55 people took the incentive program last year, saving $4,125,000 in salary and $1.1 million in retirement.
The legislators, however, had some issues with the program they wanted more information on and to discuss further, thus opting to pull the four items from the agenda. One issue discussed dealt with the process of bringing back an employee who accepts the incentive program as a consultant or outside contractor. Legislator Ilan Schoenberger said the agreements the county signed with CSEA and RAM last year contained the following passage:
“No employee who participates in the 2012-2013 target voluntary separation incentive program may be retained as a consultant or an independent contractor without written consent of county executive.”
Schoenberger said that clause is problematic for many legislators, as they’d feel more comfortable if they were brought into that process. He said otherwise it could set up what’s known as a golden parachute, in which agreements are made with employees for certain benefits on their way out.
He also said that he doesn’t think employees who take the incentive program should be allowed to be brought back in any capacity, unless for an extreme circumstance.
“They take a benefit, the voluntary separation, and they leave, that’s their choice,” Schoenberger said. “But they should not be brought back, and if they are of such unique skills and have such a value to the county that we need them back, then it should be a joint decision made by the legislature and executive, and not by one branch of government.”
Grant added that if one person is of such importance and was still targeted for the incentive program then the targeted program wasn’t doing its job.
That wasn’t all Budget & Finance discussed Tuesday night. They also talked about these issues as well:
- The committee passed a resolution to set a public hearing on the proposed transfer of Summit Park Nursing Care Center to a local development corporation. The actual date and time for the public hearing will be set by the full legislature when they discuss the matter at their next meeting, but it will most likely be some time in April.
- A memorializing resolution was passed calling for the governor and state legislators to review the state law pertaining to college chargebacks and funding of community colleges. A main point of the resolution asks that the Fashion Institute of Technology not be included in the college chargeback program and that chargeback costs are limited to associate’s degree and certificate programs. The resolution notes that chargeback costs for community colleges per student amount to hundreds of dollars compared to tens of thousands of dollars for residents attending FIT’s four-year program. Legislator John Murphy asked if it would be possible to get the two state senators and four assembly members who represent Rockland to meet with the legislature to discuss a variety of issues. He said the county keeps passing memorializing resolutions but he’d rather have a discussion with state representatives about the issues.
- The Department of Social Services had two resolutions pass, both abolishing a vacant position and replacing it with a new position. The first resolution abolished the position of municipal aide and replaced it with a position for a program aide. The second resolution abolished the position of clerk and replaced it with the position of community liaison aide. Social Services Commissioner Susan Sherwood said no increase in anything would be required, as the salaries are just about the same.