Nassau, correctional officers reach a deal

Nassau County jail in this undated file photo. Nassau County jail in this undated file photo. Photo Credit: Newsday

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Nassau has agreed to a retirement incentive with correctional officers and supervisors, and will replace the departing jailhouse employees with a new class of lower-paid recruits, union and county officials said Saturday.

Nassau expects to save $4 million annually through salary, overtime and benefit reductions.

Similar to previous buyouts offered to the Civil Service Employees Association and law enforcement unions, the agreement pays retirees $1,000 for every year of service with the county, in addition to pension and other retirement benefits.

"Every person who leaves the payroll represents a savings for taxpayers," County Executive Edward Mangano said.

Between 40 and 50 employees at the County Correctional Center in East Meadow are expected to take the incentive, said John Jaronczyk, president of the Sheriff's Correction Officers Benevolent Association. About 150 COBA members have at least 25 years of experience on the job, he said.

The departing employees earn an average base salary of $60,000, plus fringe benefits and overtime, Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said. Jail supervisors earn up to $90,000.

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The retirees will be replaced in late 2012 and early 2013 by new recruits with a starting salary of $30,000, which has been frozen by a state control board. The new hires will also contribute more to their pension than the current crop of employees.

"This is a huge salary-line savings," Jaronczyk said. "It's a step in the right direction for the county."

COBA members have until Sept. 7 to put in their retirement papers. The correctional officers will be allowed to leave only between Dec. 1 and Dec. 29, giving the county enough time to bring in a new class of recruits.

The jail, which has reduced its staff by 100 employees since 2009, does not have the staff to immediately replace the retirees without using overtime, Jaronczyk said. The jail, with about 1,500 inmates, has a workforce of 980 employees, according to the union.

Since the county will borrow to pay for the incentive, the deal must be approved by the legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state watchdog in control of the county's finances.

"Historically, we have approved these deals when they meet our economic criteria," NIFA member Christopher Wright said. "And, we expect to do the same with this one."

The incentive comes as Mangano continues to reduce the county's workforce. He announced last month that as many as 100 county employees could be laid off later this year to close a projected $45 million deficit.

Nevin declined to say if the jail retirements would mitigate the need for some layoffs.In July, 61 CSEA members took a similar incentive, saving the county $6 million. Earlier this month, the county extended that deal through Aug. 31.

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