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Long Beach Council set to vote on police contract

The Long Beach City Council is set to vote tonight on a proposed agreement with the local police union, which has been working without a contract for almost two years.

The contract with the force - the fourth-biggest in Nassau with 77 members - is retroactive to July 2008 and runs through June 30.

The agreement, which the union approved on April 7 after state mediator intervention, includes annual raises of 3.5 and 3.25 percent.

Union members in December rejected a five-year proposal that requested givebacks on retroactive pay, union leaders said. That plan included more generous raises, ranging between 3.5 percent and 3.85 percent over a five-year span.

But it would have cut retroactive raises by 25 percent and paid them in installments instead of a lump sum, factors that led to its defeat, said Long Beach Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Michael Bulik. "That was one of the big sticking points," he said.

Councilmen Mike Fagen and Len Torres said they plan to vote against the contract and asked city officials to reveal the projected cost of the payouts.

Fagen also said council president Thomas Sofield Jr. should abstain from voting because his father, the acting police commissioner, is a union member.

It poses an "obvious conflict of interest," Fagen said. "I was just hoping that Mr. Sofield would have enough integrity to recuse himself from the vote."

Sofield said Monday he hadn't decided whether to vote, but dismissed Fagen's statement as "politics as usual."

I don't have a legal conflict," Sofield said. "I decide my own ethics and morals."Fagen is a Democrat. Sofield is a registered Democrat who was elected under the city's Republican Party coalition ticket. If the council approves the contract, the city and the union will begin negotiations on a long-term agreement.

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