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NIFA delays approval of union wage deals

NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman, center, during a meeting

NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman, center, during a meeting of the NIFA board in Uniondale on Dec. 30, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Nassau's financial control board has pushed off for at least a week approval of proposed new union contracts that would lift a three-year wage freeze.

Jon Kaiman, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, said the state-appointed board likely will meet the week of April 7 instead of Monday to consider the new deals to allow more time for the county legislature's budget office and County Comptroller George Maragos to analyze the costs.

He said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano had agreed to provide all information necessary to complete reports on the financial impact of the pacts. Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said in a statement, "Concession agreements have been on file for some time and we're pleased to work with all stakeholders to achieve long-term re-occurring savings for taxpayers."

Frank Moroney, a spokesman for Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), said the County Legislature needs to review the fiscal analyses before it can consider approval. The earliest the legislature could vote, he said, is April 7.

County and union officials had targeted March 31 for lawmakers and NIFA to approve new Memorandums of Agreement with county unions, including the Police Benevolent Association, because a police hiring list was to expire that day. But a federal judge Thursday extended the list until April 14 at the county's request.

Although the list was established April 1, 2009, and extended twice before, U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert agreed that "good cause has been shown for this extension."

Mangano wants to hire about 160 cadets to fill police vacancies and bring them in on at a new, lower salary schedule included in the proposed agreements. The recruits, who have already been vetted for the job, were called to police headquarters Thursday night to be briefed.

PBA president James Carver said he believes the two-week extension of the list gives the impacted job candidates "time to get their lives in order," rather than potentially being hired without the ability to transition properly from prior jobs.

Carver said the county and NIFA must work to complete deals to end the freeze without further delay. "We expressed to the judge that these two weeks is more than what they need," he said.

The county and unions contend the deals will save millions in future costs because of contract concessions, including a requirement that new hires pay a percentage of their health costs. NIFA has required that the county set aside $129 million in new revenues to cover costs if the savings are not realized.

With Robert Kessler

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