Suozzi: Senate mess jeopardizes Nassau, union deal

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The deal between the county and most of its union employees to help close a huge budget gap and prevent layoffs is in jeopardy, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said Monday, because of the turmoil in the State Senate.

"Our agreement was contingent upon the bonding for the [retirement] pay incentive being passed in Albany," Suozzi said. But he said the "circus there now" after last week's Republican coup "can make very real life problems for Nassau County residents."

Suozzi had hoped to close the deal this week, but the deadline has been pushed back another week. "It would be irresponsible to the county, the employees and the residents to say the deal is dead this soon," he said, adding that, if necessary, another week could be considered.

But pushing the agreement back comes with a price tag. Tom Stokes, Suozzi's top financial aide, said that every day after the July 1 effective retirement date would cost the county $100,000.

The incentive and termination pay for Civil Service Employee Association workers and police officers would cost at least $75 million, Stokes said.

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CSEA Local 830 president Jerry Laricchiuta said he is "hopeful the bond will be approved before the end of the week."

Suozzi said the delay in Albany "could create a doomsday scenario for Nassau, including laying off 700 people, and that would just be in the first round." He said he would also close the county for 26 days this year and next, at least, resulting in cuts in services.

Suozzi said the failure to get a Nassau cigarette tax could cost the county about $20 million a year, and $4 million from a traffic-ticket surcharge.

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That money was for restoring funding cuts to a variety of social service programs, but especially those serving youth.

Suozzi said youth most "at risk" of falling through the cracks will still get the assistance they need, but that those in less dire need probably would not.

State lawmakers recently gave Nassau approval for red-light cameras, expected to bring in $12 million a year.

"But we've already used that anticipated revenue to extend our funding of the social service programs until July 1," said Suozzi. - With staff writer

William Murphy

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