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Nassau plans early retirement incentives for labor union to cut costs

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in Woodbury on

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in Woodbury on June 12, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau County will offer another round of early retirement incentives to members of its largest labor union as it seeks to cut labor costs.

The deal would offer full-time Civil Service Employees Association members a lump-sum payment of $1,000 for every year of service with the county. Employees also could collect pay for unused vacation and personal days.

County officials said the incentive creates long-term savings by encouraging veteran higher-paid workers to retire.

"These programs have historically returned savings for taxpayers and we expect to achieve a savings with each retirement," said Mangano, who submitted the measure to the GOP-controlled county legislature Friday.

Eric Naughton, Nassau's deputy county executive for finance, said he expects the incentive to save $12 million annually in salary and benefits.

The incentive comes weeks after officials reported that sales taxes increased 1.4 percent for the first six months of 2015 compared with that period last year. Nassau budgeted a 3 percent increase in sales taxes in year-over-year collections for 2015.

County Comptroller George Maragos said at its current pace, Nassau would face a projected $35 million deficit in sales tax revenue for 2015.

If fewer than 50 employees take the incentive, the proposal calls for Nassau to pay for the incentive and termination pay out of its operating budget. If more than 50 take the deal, Nassau would borrow to pay the costs.

The deal must be approved by the legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board in control of the county's finances.

NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said the board would likely not approve new bonding unless the county shows "significant, structural long-term savings" by not replacing a high number of departing employees.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said she was "inclined to support the retirement incentive because, historically, it has saved the county money."

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Democrats support the incentive but "it's important that we don't write blank checks to bond on the county's credit card simply to dig us out of the financial hole the Nassau Republican administration has put us in."

CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta expects at least 100 of his roughly 4,000 full-time members to take the deal, but wants Mangano to replace many departing employees.

"Every department is already running low," he said. "My members are doing more with less."

County officials said they plan to replace some, but not all of the retirees. Since June 2011, 400 CSEA members have been laid off and 560 retired with incentives, including nearly 200 who took the incentive in September.

Nassau replaced about half of last year's retirees, saving $12.6 million in annual salaries and benefits, Naughton said.

New hires would operate under a labor deal signed last year that stipulates new employees would take longer to reach top salaries and pay a percentage of health and pension costs.

CSEA members must submit resignation letters by Sept. 15 -- also the deadline for Mangano to submit his 2016 budget.


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