Nassau County's three-year pay freeze is finally over for some 6,000 union employees who will receive $5.1 million in retroactive salary hikes and step increases in special checks Friday.
The retroactive pay will cover the period from April 1 through May 29, according to County Comptroller George Maragos' office.
The county's financial control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, approved new contracts in May for the Civil Service Employees Association and three police unions that lifted the freeze, effective retroactively to April 1.
NIFA approved a new contract for the nearly 900 full-time county correction officers union Wednesday that will lift the freeze as of June 1, but union members will not see increased pay checks until early October, Maragos spokesman Jostyn Hernandez said.
Hernandez said the raises and step increases in the four agreements will have a $30 million impact on the county budget this year.
"I'm relieved to know we are moving and are past this point," said CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta. "Everybody including NIFA was calling for structural change and they got it. They should start replenishing the workforce under the new deal."
County Executive Edward Mangano and union officials say givebacks in the contracts, including restructured salary scales, will cut tens of millions of dollars in future costs.
"These concession agreements save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the present contracts, require employee contributions to health care and pensions and settle approximately $400 million in litigation," Mangano said yesterday in a statement.
Mangano and NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said revenue from fee increases and from a new school zone speed camera ticketing program are expected to cover immediate costs of the deals.
However, independent fiscal analysts have warned that higher wages, along with a steep decline in expected sales tax revenue, could put a hole of more than $71 million in this year's budget.
The legislature's independent budget review office projected last month that the county will end this year with a $71.6 million deficit; Maragos predicted a $77 million year-end gap while a NIFA staff report warned that $133 million is "at risk" this year.
Laricchiuta said dollar amounts of the supplemental checks will differ sharply among his members.
People at top pay will receive just two months of the 2.75 percent annual pay raise while workers who had been stuck at entry-level salaries could see substantial checks because they moved up to pay grades that pay thousands of dollars more each year, Laricchiuta said.
PBA president James Carver said, "We are pleased that the retro monies are finally paid as per the settlement that was approved by NIFA in May.
"This is another step in the right direction for the men and women of the police department who day in and day out risk their lives in the line of duty making Nassau County a safe place to live and raise their children," Carver said.