A file photo of the NIFA board. (Dec. 30, 2010)

A file photo of the NIFA board. (Dec. 30, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The chairman of the state board that controls Nassau's finances met for the first time Wednesday with union officials and County Executive Edward Mangano to discuss next year's county budget, which is projected to have a deficit of nearly $300 million unless there are significant union concessions and hundreds of layoffs.

Although some Nassau Interim Finance Authority members have met behind closed doors with county officials and union leaders, this was the first time NIFA chairman Ronald Stack attended a budget session.

Participants declined to discuss specifics of the private meeting, but Stack and Mangano issued a joint statement, saying they had met with officials from the Police Benevolent Association. They also stated they planned to meet Wednesday night with leaders of the Civil Service Employees Association "to impress upon them the need to negotiate savings and to advise them that NIFA and the County are working together to solve Nassau's fiscal issues in the 2012 budget."

Mangano's proposed $2.6 billion budget calls for $100 million in labor concessions by charging union workers and retirees 25 percent of the cost of their health insurance and by reorganizing the police department and requiring officers to work more hours. The budget also calls for eliminating more than 700 positions and freezing all salaries. The county legislature must adopt next year's budget by Oct. 30. NIFA, which took control of Nassau's finances in January, last week warned that the proposed spending plan is not balanced.

After the meeting, PBA president James Carver said, "The PBA has always been willing to sit down and discuss reasonable solutions but will not be the only solution."

CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta said, "We are prepared to offer solutions once again to see if there's a way to fix this fiscal crisis. I'm curious to see what Mangano is offering. The only answer I've seen so far is the unions have to give back."

Laricchiuta helped organize a rally in Mineola on Monday where thousands of workers protested Mangano's plans to force concessions by reopening existing contracts.

Mangano responded to the protest by saying union leaders would better serve their members "by getting their butts to the negotiation table."

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