When Suffolk employees leave the payroll later this year under early-retirement incentives, County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki says he will lose a dozen valued veteran officials with a total of more than three centuries' experience.

"Some of our top people are leaving, including a deputy comptroller, the director of auditing, the executive director of accounting . . . and some extremely knowledgeable computer people," said Sawicki. "We will survive, but it will be very difficult."

The same kind of constriction and loss of institutional knowledge will be felt in state and local government offices across Long Island under the early retirement incentive, many officials predict.

"We all have to be realistic," said Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau's Civil Service Employees Association Local 830. "And the reality is there is no money to pay people. That means people will have to wait longer on lines and phones will be answered a little slower."

Islip Supervisor Philip Nolan said his town is still weighing whether to go ahead with the state incentives. He noted that Islip has already reduced the town payroll from 974 workers to 760 since 2006.

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Other local municipalities, including Hempstead Town in Nassau and Smithtown in Suffolk, have decided not to participate - in part because of concerns about the impact on service.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio noted that the town since 2008 has shed 30 jobs by attrition, and argued that reductions in the remaining payroll of 406 employees aren't possible without sacrificing service.

"We're already very lean," Vecchio said.