Nassau finance agency takes up union deals to end wage freeze

Jon Kaiman is shown at a Nassau Interim

Jon Kaiman is shown at a Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) meeting in Uniondale on Oct. 9, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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Nassau County's financial control board is scheduled to vote Friday on proposed union deals that would lift a three-year wage freeze.

The 4 p.m. meeting of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority follows approval by the State Legislature of Nassau's request to install 56 speed cameras in school zones that according to estimates could generate more than $25 million for the county annually. Suffolk also received approval for 69 cameras.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has said money from the cameras will be part of $129 million in new revenue the county will use to pay for increased salaries if union contract concessions do not generate expected savings.

In March, NIFA outlined conditions the county and unions could meet to lift the freeze, including a lower salary scale and health care contributions by future employees.

Four of the five major county unions -- the Civil Service Employees Association, the Police Benevolent Association, the Detectives Association and the Superior Officers Association -- agreed to the conditions, and memorandums of agreement with the county were approved by the county legislature on April 7. A deal with the county's correction officers has not been finalized.

PBA president James Carver said Thursday he anticipated NIFA approval of the union deals. "It will bring certainty to the whole workforce, which is what the county needs," after NIFA imposed the wage freeze in 2011, Carver said.

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NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman did not return a call for comment Thursday. In an interview following the State Senate's approval of the speed cameras Wednesday, he said Nassau "is coming forward with revenue and savings that give me greater confidence that they can cover the costs" of the agreements.

Union leaders say concessions will save hundreds of millions of dollars, but NIFA has estimated the labor deals could cost the county $129 million. The Nassau legislature's budget review office reported that the four union deals could cost from $120 million to $292 million, depending on when current employees retire and new employees are hired.

Democrats on the 19-member county legislature joined Republicans in a unanimous vote for the CSEA contract, noting that the union represents the county's lowest-paid workers. But six of the eight Democrats abstained from voting on the law-enforcement contracts, citing concerns about how the county would pay for all of the agreements.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) has questioned whether the county will generate enough money from the speed cameras, citing a report by legislative budget office director Maurice Chalmers that predicts an annual revenue of $12 million compared with Mangano's estimate of $25 million

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