Largo Administration Pushes More Personnel Cuts to Fund Staff’s Pet Spending Goals
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO – The City Commission has big spending plans and it appears that getting rid of the some of the help is designed as a way to fund projects.
In January, the commission okayed an early retirement program as thinking began for the fiscal year 2010 budget. A money shortage has concentrated city administration thinking in a way that appears to devise ways to cut outlays but preserve spending plans in other areas.
Now the administration says further reductions in staff are necessary.
A key to how seriously the commission, which makes the final determination on spending, reductions and so forth, regards the situation will be to see if employee raises are eliminated.
Count the commission members themselves who get $17,000 or so a year and the mayor, at about $25,000, among those who may not get increases.
Certainly, the city attorney, currently being paid $2,226 a week for part time work, cannot expect a raise.
The plan outlined in January was strictly voluntary and 10 employees took advantage of it at a savings of $241,500, according to the city staff. This figure is far less than the city plans to spend refurbishing the clock tower.
There is an irony in the administration designing these job eliminations because it is equivalent to consuming one’s own. Largo, after all, pays lavish salaries at the top level; for example, the city manager is paid more than the governor of Florida.
At Tuesday’s commission meeting, the administration outlined another additional “early retirement incentive program” and “separation incentive” program.
What the program offers is early retirement for city employees who are in jobs being recommended for elimination in the 2010 budget which begins next October 1.
They would have to be at 59 ½ years old and vested in the retirement plan. They would get three months pay in a lump sum and three months paid health insurance. They would have the option of staying with the city’s group health plan as a retiree and pay premiums.
The deadline to participate in this is June 26.
The “separation incentive” program is available to those not eligible for the early retirement incentive plan and who are in a job being recommended for elimination.
There would be one week of pay for every year of service up to a maximum of three months and three months of health insurance.
A suggestion put forth for those who opt to take the separation incentive package is to work up to the number of weeks they are eligible for separation pay. For example, an employee eligible for four weeks of separation pay would work to the end of August and receive pay and health coverage through the end of September.
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