Nassau police unions have agreed to an incentive package intended to encourage higher-paid officers to retire and save the county as much as $20 million annually, officials said Monday.
The incentive package would offer retiring officers $1,000 for every year of service and would partially lift a cap on severance pay, which is now limited to two times salary. The incentive would allow each officer to be paid 2 1/2 times his salary, which includes base pay, shift differential, holiday pay and longevity pay.
The governing boards of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, the Detectives' Association and the Superior Officers Association on Sunday ratified the deal, which gives officers until March 22 to retire.
Officials say the county's fiscal control board, which must ultimately approve the package, reviewed the deal before either the unions or county administration signed it and did not object.
"While the agreement is still subject to legislative and final NIFA board approval and requires successful execution, it does appear to be headed in the right direction," Chris Wright, a member of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, said Monday.
The package is part of County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to save money by reducing four of Nassau's eight precincts to community police centers staffed by two officers round-the-clock instead of a full complement of 38 officers. Savings would come from cutting police jobs; originally 95 officers' jobs were to be eliminated, but that number was later reduced to 87.
"After careful analysis and consultation with NIFA, it is clear that the voluntary retirement incentive maximizes annual re-occurring savings for taxpayers," Mangano said.
PBA president James Carver predicted that 75 to 80 police officers at all levels will take the package, while the administration expects 87 will opt for the incentive.
The county legislature's Budget Review office found that the plan's savings depended on whether higher-paid officers retired. Layoffs, which would hit younger, lower-paid officers, would save less than $9 million, budget review predicted.
While cutting 95 experienced officers would save $19.2 million a year in recurring salary and fringe benefits, borrowing costs to pay severance would reduce the savings by about $2.2 million annually for 10 years, Budget Review reported.
The administration pointed out last week, however, that some police positions are already vacant, which will reduce severance costs.
Glenn Ciccone, Detectives' Association president, said, "It helps the county out with savings, but at the same time, we're losing qualified officers."
Police unions and some public officials contend that reducing precincts -- including two of the busiest -- would jeopardize public safety. Mangano disagrees, saying that all 177 current community patrols will be maintained while 48 officers now at desk jobs will be reassigned to neighborhood crime prevention.
Budget Review reported that 328 uniformed officers have left the force from the end of 2008 through 2011, putting the current level on board at 2,377.
Breaking it down: What's in the plan
What a hypothetical retiring 20-year veteran making $120,000 (base pay, shift differential, holiday pay and longevity pay) would get under this plan:
2.5 times salary: $300,000
Plus $1,000 for each year of service: $20,000
Total payout: $320,000