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Suffolk pact to avoid 60 police layoffs

Late-night talks in an empty Holbrook catering hall led Wednesday to a final deal that avoids 60 police layoffs and gives the police union a money-back guarantee on $12 million in concessions if the pact is violated.

County Executive Steve Levy and Suffolk PBA officials finalized a pact around 2 p.m. as the county legislature's budget working group was to meet to iron out a multipronged resolution to amend Levy's proposed $2.64-billion spending plan.

"This is an important component of my tax freeze budget without which we would have cut positions," Levy said Wednesday. He said he hoped the deal could pave way to better relations with the union.

Jeff Frayler, PBA president, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Most of the final details were hammered out Tuesday night at Villa Lombardi's after a Suffolk Democratic fundraiser. Presiding Officer William Lindsay and party chairman Richard Schaffer shuttled between PBA officials in the empty banquet hall and Levy, who was stationed in a bridal suite nearby. The talks lasted until 10:30 p.m., and Lindsay met through the morning with negotiators on both sides to seal the last details so he could deliver the pact to the budget group.

The final details worked out gives the union a money-back guarantee should the county violate the agreement and sets up an arbitration process to rule on any dispute.

Without the deal, Lindsay said any chance for new police classes would have been "off the table altogether" because lawmakers would not have the money to fill the $12-million loss. Even now, Lindsay said, new police hiring is still an "open question" because it would require a property tax increase. He said to replace the 240 officers that have retired over the last three years would require a 3 percent increase in the police district or about $30 for the average homeowner.

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