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Steve Bellone: New PBA, AME contracts to cost $192.5 million through 2023

New contracts with the Suffolk PBA and AME will cost $192.48 million through 2023, but a pact requiring workers for the first time to help pay health costs will bring in $195.74 million during the period, aides to County Executive Steve Bellone said.

The estimates were contained in a financial impact statement from Bellone’s budget office accompanying emergency resolutions that could be voted on at a County Legislature meeting in Hauppauge Tuesday. Emergency resolutions require approval by 12 of the 18 lawmakers.

Legislative budget analysts Monday night were still analyzing the union agreements.

Bellone estimated the deal with the 6,000-member Association of Municipal Employees, which represents county blue- and white-collar workers, will cost an extra $111.5 million, produce savings of $3.48 million for a net $108.02 million cost. The AME has been without a contract since Jan. 1, 2017.

The contract with the 1,700-member Police Benevolent Association, whose last contract lapsed Jan. 1, will cost an extra $98.1 million, while producing savings of $13.64 million for a net cost of $84.46 million, according to the administration.

Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman said the estimates were conservative and that savings from extra work days and work rules changes could reduce overtime and bring greater economies.

“The new money is really significantly less than what those large numbers reflect,” Kaiman said.

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said lawmakers “are withholding judgment” until they get details of the impact and hear from workers.

Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), minority caucus leader, said the contracts appear fair, and getting workers to contribute to their health insurance “is a big plus.” But he expressed concern about the $1,500 minimum health care contribution for workers who “don’t make a lot of money,” such as school crossing guards.

Bellone also put forward a resolution for 537 exempt appointees who are not covered by union contracts. The measure would grant total pay increases of 12 percent through 2024, the same as AME workers. The proposal would cost $23.7 million, less $455,300 in estimated savings.

The financial impact statements for both union contracts do not assess the costs for the final year of either agreement.

AME workers will get a 2.5 percent raise on July 1, 2024. The PBA will get a 1.5 percent pay hike on Jan. 1, 2024, and another .5 percent raise on July 1, 2024.  

The contract also includes step increases for newer police officers hired since 2013, which will bring the top step to $159,846. Bellone aides said the pact keeps in place the system adopted in the last contract that increases from five to 12 years the time it takes to reach top pay.

In a separate agreement with all 10 county unions, health care cost-sharing, plan changes and higher co-pays will cut taxpayer costs by $10.34 million in 2019, fiscal statements said. The changes would go into effect Sept 1.

Annual savings will range from $38.8 million to $50.6 million from 2020 to 2023. No details were provided for final year savings.

The deal also requires unions to make at least $6 million to $13 million more in annual cuts by Sept. 1, 2020, or the contract will end a year early, on Dec. 31, 2023.

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