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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 4 years ago

Vote will impact employees, taxpayers

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longboat Key Town Commission will make a decision Wednesday at Town Hall that could cost taxpayers up to $1.75 million and impact the retirement plans of up to 37 of the town’s 43 general employees.

Commissioners will decide at a 9:30 a.m. special meeting at Longboat Key Town Hall whether to allow general employees to enter the Deferred Retirement Options Program (DROP) and offer those employees an early-retirement incentive after their pension plan freezes Sept. 30.

Commissioners will review two separate scenarios for extending DROP.

The first option would allow employees within two years of DROP eligibility to enter the program. That would allow two additional employees to participate in the program at a cost of $3,484 per year to the town, or $104,520 over a 30-year amortization period.

Extending the opportunity to a five-year opportunity would make eight employees eligible, costing the town $58,332 per year, or nearly $1.75 million over the next 30 years.

An early-retirement option that the commission will consider would allow employees to retire at age 50 after 25 years of service and collect a pension. Of the town’s 43 general employees, 37 could qualify for early retirement. If all eligible employees chose that option, it would cost the town $9,818 per year, or $294,540 over a 30-year amortization period.

Also at the meeting, town attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale plans to seek direction from the commission on how to deal with a new state law that doesn’t allow the town to use referenda to approve density changes.

At its spring session, the Florida Legislature approved a two-page bill that nixes the referendum process statewide and also renders any referendum performed on or after June 1, 2011, moot.

For Longboat Key, the bill means the town can’t approve future density changes.

The town attorney will give commissioners three options to consider:
-The town could file a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief, asking a judge how the new state law applies and how the town should interpret the new law moving forward;

-The town could pursue a legislative amendment that clarifies or allows the town to be an exception to the new law;

-The town could do nothing and wait for an affected party to come forward who may want to increase density but cannot because of the new law.

-The town could seek declaratory relief while also pursuing a legislative amendment.

“There’s a glitch in that bill, and Longboat Key was an unintended consequence,” Portale said. Portale has already received direction to meet with Legislature committees this fall and try to get the matter resolved when the Legislature reconvenes in February.

For more information on Wednesday’s meeting, check for live updates.

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