REBNY looks to overhaul staff

Several employees have accepted buyout offers
By Rich Bockmann | November 17, 2017 05:56PM

John Banks

The Real Estate Board of New York recently offered buyouts to the majority of its staffers, several of whom accepted the offers, sources told The Real Deal.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many or which of the industry trade group’s employees accepted the buyouts. Nor was it apparent what the motivation was for the overhaul of REBNY’s longtime staff — though industry sources speculated the decision came from its president, John Banks, who replaced longtime president Steven Spinola in mid-2015.

Banks confirmed the offers to TRD.

“REBNY offered a voluntary incentive program with enhanced severance benefits to employees,” he wrote in an email. “Several employees have accepted the voluntary incentive package.”

The buyouts were only offered to all employees who have been with REBNY one year or longer — a standard practice with such offers — including top staffers like executive vice president and chief lobbyist Jim Whelan. At least two vice presidents, head of research Michael Slattery and City Hall point-person John Doyle, declined the offers, TRD confirmed.

TRD was also able to confirm that Gladys Roman, who worked at REBNY for almost 23 years — as a senior executive assistant first to Spinola and then under Banks — was among the employees who would be leaving.

As of September, REBNY had a staff of 49, including a group of half-a-dozen vice presidents who ran divisions ranging from brokerage services to government affairs.

When Banks left his job as chief lobbyist for Consolidated Edison in 2015, he left REBNY’s staff intact. In fact, the number of employees has grown recently as the group added new hires to launch its Residential Listings Service.

REBNY’s most recently available tax filings show salaries grew just over 13 percent to $6.5 million in 2015 from the previous year. And revenues from dues grew 10 percent to $13.45 million.

Net operating income, however, dropped off by roughly 4 percent to $302,773, mostly due to the fact that the previous year’s revenues had been boosted by a $1 million contract REBNY recorded with an affiliate it oversees, Taxpayers for an Affordable New York.

Leadership at the group is set to change next year. Rudin Management CEO Bill Rudin will step in as chairman, succeeding Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer after his two-term tenure.