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Nassau's union pacts could cost $120M, comptroller says

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos at his Massapequa

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos at his Massapequa office on March 19, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

New union agreements that would lift a three-year wage freeze would cost Nassau about $120 million over four years if expected new revenues do not materialize, County Comptroller George Maragos reported Thursday.

Maragos projected the county would raise $57.7 million to help pay for the contracts if the State Legislature approves a proposal to allow Nassau to install cameras in school zones to ticket speeders.

The speed camera revenue would cut the contract costs to $62.6 million over the term of the proposed new agreements, which run from April 1 through 2017, Maragos reported in a financial analysis of the deals that was sent to county leaders Thursday.

He cautioned, however, that the State Legislature has yet to approve their use and that proposed legislation would divert some of the camera revenues to villages.

Maragos met with top administrators for County Executive Edward Mangano on Wednesday to advise them of his findings.

The comptroller's numbers are similar to those estimated by the head of Nassau's fiscal control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which imposed a wage freeze on county employees in March 2011.

NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman projected the cost of the union deals at $129 million and directed Mangano to set aside speed camera revenues, and sales taxes and mortgage recording fees that came in over budget, to cover the costs.

Maragos said he could not project a number for how much more revenue over budget in sales taxes and mortgage fees were likely to be collected.

The county legislature is scheduled to vote Monday on the new memorandums of agreement for the Police Benevolent Association, the Civil Service Employees Association, the Detectives Association and the Superior Officers Association. The correction officers union has yet to reach an agreement with Mangano. Maragos included the union in his report, assuming a similar agreement.

Because the State Legislature has yet to approve the speed cameras, Kaiman has said NIFA cannot consider the agreements until the end of this month.

Maragos projected that lifting the freeze and paying severance will cost $447.2 million over four years. But he said concessions in the deals, such as new employees paying toward their pensions and health insurance, will save $326.9 million.

He said the Mangano administration estimated that speed cameras would raise $28.8 million to $78.2 million a year. Maragos said his office analyzed the actual use of speed cameras in Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, D.C., as well as a test of their use in New York City and projected total revenue over four years at $57.7 million.

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