Nassau offers retirement incentive in wake of tax shortfall

"This is another cost-saving initiative aimed at protecting taxpayers wallets," said County Executive Edward Mangano, who submitted the plan to the GOP-controlled county Legislature. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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Nassau County is moving to offer early retirement incentives to members of its largest labor union as it seeks to cut costs in the face of a projected $90 million shortfall in sales tax revenues.

County Comptroller George Maragos reported last month that sales taxes were down 9 percent for the first six months of 2014, and that revenue would have to increase by 11.7 percent for the rest of this year to reach the adopted budget of $1.16 billion.

The retirement incentive for the Civil Service Employees Association would offer departing employees a lump-sum payment of $1,000 for every year of service with the county. Employees also could collect pay for any unused vacation and personal days.

"This is another cost-saving initiative aimed at protecting taxpayers' wallets," said County Executive Edward Mangano, who submitted the plan to the GOP-controlled county Legislature yesterday.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin declined to comment on how many employees the county needs to take the incentive, or how much money it would save. He noted there are 110 CSEA employees who are of retirement age and are in Tier 1 and Tier 2 pension plans, which cover the longest-tenured employees in the state retirement system.

The county would see a net reduction in the number of employees, and no layoffs are expected, Nevin said.

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CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta expressed concern that the retirements would affect vital county services.

"Nassau needs to maintain services to county residents," he said. "We can't do any more with less. When the smoke clears, the county needs to rebuild its workforce to acceptable levels."

Since June 2011, 400 CSEA members have been laid off and another 360 retired with incentives.

Nassau has 7,265 full-time workers, including 3,496 CSEA members, Nevin said.

The retirement incentive comes three months after Mangano reached a deal with county labor unions to lift a three-year wage freeze that NIFA had imposed on county employees. In exchange for salary and step increases, new county employees must pay a percentage of their health insurance premium and pension costs.

The retirement incentive will be available to full-time CSEA members beginning Friday, and they must submit resignation letters by Sept. 12.

The incentive must be approved by the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board that controls the county's finances. The retirements would be rescinded if lawmakers or NIFA did not approve the incentive.

Representatives for the Republican majority and the Democratic minority declined to comment Wednesday because lawmakers had not reviewed the deal.

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NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman did not respond to a request for comment.

The legislature is scheduled to meet next on Sept. 8.

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