The administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has struck a tentative deal with deputy sheriffs that clears the way for county police to take over patrols of the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway from deputies, according to a high-level legislative source.
The agreement, expected to go before the county legislature Tuesday as an emergency resolution, would end a dispute that started when Bellone moved to return police to the highway patrols.
Former County Executive Steve Levy removed police from the highways in 2008, giving the duties to lower-paid deputy sheriffs. The sheriffs agreed to defer $4 million in retroactive pay until 2015 in return for a guarantee that they would continue patrolling the highways through 2017. Levy left office in 2011.
The new tentative agreement would give each of the 260 deputy sheriffs an extra $2,100 annually in "line up" pay -- compensation for meetings between deputies and supervisors before shifts begin. The extra pay will amount to about $700,000 a year, the source said. However, Suffolk would continue to defer the retroactive pay that it would have had to pay deputies immediately without the deal.
The agreement would assign some of the 30 deputies who have been tasked with highway work to provide security for Suffolk's new traffic violations bureau. Bellone had included $327,000 extra in next year's budget for contracting for about a half-dozen outside security personnel for the bureau who will not be needed if deputies take on the job.
Jon Schneider, deputy county executive, declined to comment, saying negotiations were continuing. Anthony Prudenti, head of the deputy sheriffs union, did not return calls to his office for comment.
The deputy sheriffs union last month got a temporary court order blocking the police from reclaiming control of the highway patrols as part of the new eight-year police contract.
State Supreme Court Justice Peter H. Mayer last week lifted the temporary restraining order, freeing the county to return police to those roads while the court suit proceeded.
The tentative agreement would leave intact the $4 million pay deferral, even though Bellone had already included the money in his 2013 budget to pay the deputies.
The settlement also would end the $12 million lawsuit the Police Benevolent Association has filed against the county over the issue. PBA officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Deputy Presiding Officer Wayne R. Horsley (D-Babylon) said he expects lawmakers to approve the deal, which could end the dispute between the PBA and the sheriffs deputies.
"The good news is that the county will not have hostility between the sheriff and the PBA, and there will now be a smooth transition," he said.