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NIFA memo: Police contract could cost Nassau $240 million

Nassau PBA president James Carver speaking in Mineola.

Nassau PBA president James Carver speaking in Mineola. (May 21, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau's control board estimates that a proposed police contract could cost the county from $170 million to $240 million or more over the next four years depending on factors such as police retirements, according to an internal staff memo.

However, Nassau Interim Finance Authority chairman Jon Kaiman said it is too early to talk numbers about the deal, which is being analyzed under different scenarios.

Kaiman repeated that the control board will not consider returning pay lost during a NIFA-imposed employee wage freeze -- a key part of the deal negotiated between the Police Benevolent Association and County Executive Edward Mangano.

Kaiman announced at a NIFA meeting last month that restoration of back pay was not on the table after a federal appeals court in September upheld NIFA's authority to freeze wages. "The cost savings that we've achieved through the wage freeze are real and we believe must be preserved," he said then. "Wherever we go from here will be part of future negotiations."

NIFA has suspended pay increases since March 2011. County Comptroller George Maragos estimates the freeze has saved $230 million; $72 million from the PBA alone.

When Mangano announced the PBA deal in September, he said it would save $320 million through 2017 by restructuring pay and benefits for new police officers while lifting the freeze. It also would restore lost wages over time.

Kaiman said NIFA staff met with county and PBA officials Wednesday to go over costs. The staff memo says the proposed deal could cost Nassau $240 million over the next four years. If repayment of back wages is eliminated, the contract could cost $177 million to $267 million depending on terms.

"NIFA staff analysis, based on various scenarios, shows a range of $170 million to $267 million in additional costs," NIFA member George Marlin said. "Frankly, in my judgment, the present proposals are not very different from past proposals. They're just the same old stuff in a different Halloween costume."

But Kaiman, a Mangano spokesman and PBA president James Carver said it is premature to talk costs before terms are final.

Carver added, "I don't know where George Marlin shops for his Halloween costumes but he should not make light of a proposal that can save the taxpayers money while at the same time restoring pay to the county workforce that has been in a freeze for 2-1/5 years."

Though NIFA member Chris Wright would not comment on the numbers, he said, "The staff analysis was thorough and fair and hopefully provides insight to the county and the collective bargaining units with whom it has to negotiate."

NIFA member Paul Annunziato said he wanted make clear that NIFA, which must approve the eventual contract, is not negotiating terms, but simply listening to how the county and police intend to balance revenue against expenses. "When the negotiations are done, NIFA will have to judge what's in front of them," he said. "It's smart and shrewd to let us know what is being said."

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