December 7, 2006
BY LISA L. COLANGELO
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Gov. Pataki vetoed two bills yesterday that would have allowed police officers and firefighters to receive a lump sum of cash instead of taking their "terminal leave" benefit when they retire.
City police and fire unions had lobbied hard for the bills, saying they would keep veteran uniformed workers on the job longer.
Currently, police officers and firefighters receive three days of terminal leave for every year they work. So, for example, a 20-year veteran who is retiring could take as many as 60 days' terminal leave - essentially retiring two months early.
But union officials don't like the policy because it deprives uniformed workers of the chance to accrue overtime right up to their last official day - lowering their pensions, which are based on the average of their three highest salary years or their final year.
The Bloomberg administration argued the bills would cost the city $21 million for cops and $3.3 million for firefighters every year. In his veto message, Pataki said he had to listen to the city's objections.
In a letter to Pataki, Bloomberg slammed one of the bills as "a disingenuous attempt to use public safety as an excuse for enhancing pension benefits."
The bills "would have given firefighters and police officers money they have already earned and are contractually entitled to," said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy.
"This is a benefit that was bought and paid for during previous negotiations," added Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.