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Proposed Suffolk correction officers contract to cost $4.5M more than expected

The new contract would freeze starting pay at

The new contract would freeze starting pay at $30,000 for new correction officers. Photo Credit: NEWSDAY / Newsday/Daniel Goodrich

The proposed correction officers contract will cost Suffolk taxpayers $57.31 million -- $4.5 million more than County Executive Steve Bellone estimated -- because the administration did not include $10.8 million in deferred payments, according to a new report by legislative budget analysts.

But the report also found that a lower pay scale for new recruits, starting at $30,000 a year, will save the county $377,929 over the next 12 years for every new hire.

County legislators are expected to vote on the contract, which runs from 2011 to 2018, at their meeting Tuesday in Riverhead.

The Bellone administration last week issued a five-year fiscal impact statement showing that the pact will cost $52.8 million through 2018.

However, the administration's forecast included no estimates for the cost of deferred pay increases because those costs will occur beyond the five years required in the fiscal impact statement.

The Office of Legislative Budget Review, in an eight-page report released Friday, pegged the price of deferred raises for 2013, 2014 and 2015, and deferred one-time payments totaling $2,400 at $10.8 million.

Analysts made the estimate based on the cost of the deferrals in 2020, the soonest the county can pay off the money owed. The county also can pay out the money over a longer term as officers retire or leave their jobs.

Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider minimized the impact of the deferred payments because of the substantial savings the lower pay scales will yield. "In the first class of 40 alone, the county will save $15.1 million over the next 12 years," Schneider said. "That speaks in very stark terms of the very real, very large long-term savings."

Also Friday, a compromise was reached on the county contribution to Suffolk County Community College's $215 million budget that will avoid the need to raise full-time tuition by an extra $50 next year, officials said.

Under the agreement, also scheduled for a vote Tuesday, the county will contribute $495,000 through the capital budget for new technology equipment for students. The college will match the funding, which will keep the tuition hike this fall at $180, for a total of $4,530 annually.


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