The Bellone administration has scrapped its bid to save $1.7 million by year’s end by allowing Suffolk police officers to defer up to 150 hours in overtime and vacation pay until they retire.
Noel DeGerolamo, Suffolk Police Benevolent Association president, said the initiative fell through after the director of labor relations told them the comptroller “did not have adequate time” to implement the deferral by the Dec. 10 payroll deadline.
As a result, checks that included accumulated compensatory and holiday pay were distributed Thursday, said Jennifer McNamara, labor relations director.
Administration officials had sought and got legislative approval Dec. 1 of a resolution authorizing an agreement to allow a deferral this year and again next year. Officials estimated that 20 percent of the county’s 1,640 officers would participate, saving $1.7 million this year and $1.9 million in 2016.
DeGerolamo said, “We had put it out and dozens responded,” but he could not estimate how many might have participated. Bellone aides and union officials say they still plan to move forward with the 2016 deferral.
Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. said the problem arose because the union had to get officers to sign forms, the police department payroll department had to incorporate the deferrals into payroll data, and information technology officials had to alter programs to accommodate the deferral.
Kennedy questioned whether the deferral, done by an agreement outside the police contract, could be carried out without collecting withholding taxes since it was being done on a voluntary basis. Kennedy said he is drafting a letter to the Internal Revenue Service to seek an expedited ruling so police deferrals can be done next year.
Vanessa Baird Streeter, Bellone spokeswoman, said the 2015 savings were included in the 2016 budget, but could not say what impact it will have on efforts to close county budget gaps.
“I’m not surprised,” said Legis. Kevin McCaffrey of Lindenhurst, GOP caucus leader. “I’m sure we are going to hear about more deficiencies in the budget over time where revenues are overestimated and expenses are underestimated.”