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Suffolk PBA overwhelmingly ratifies 6-year contract

The pact will raise the pay of officers with 15 years on the job to more than $200,000 a year by 2024 when overtime and longevity are factored in.

Suffolk County police officers on Monday overwhelmingly ratified a new six-year contract that will raise the pay of officers with 15 years on the job to more than $200,000 a year by 2024 when overtime and benefits such as longevity are factored in.

In an online vote that ended at 5 p.m. Monday, 1,344 of the 1,623 Police Benevolent Association members—84 percent -- backed the agreement, said Noel DiGerolamo, PBA president.

An email that went out to members Friday said compounded pay increases will total more than 13 percent by the end of the contract.

The email said pay will exceed $200,000 when factors including, “top step, night differential, holiday pay, seven worked holidays, cleaning [allowance], 15 year longevity [and] 150 hours of overtime” are considered.

The add-ons will bring pay to $201,651 for officers working the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift and the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, and $208,657 for those who work midnight until 8 a.m.

DiGerolamo said with the 15-year longevity benefit, about 50 percent of PBA members would reach the $200,000 level by the contract's end.

The PBA email also cited a $625, or 25 percent, increase in longevity pay; a $1,250 (56 percent) hike in the cleaning allowance and a $1,000 (43 percent) increase in the clothing allowance.

“This was a very fair and equitable agreement that reached a balance between the county’s ability to pay and members’ salary and security for their families,” said DiGerolamo.

“I make no apologies for what police officers earn while professional athletes are being paid tens of millions of dollars a year, while my members are risking their lives,” he said.

The new details of the contract’s fiscal impact came to light after the Suffolk County Legislature last week overwhelmingly ratified the new PBA contract, which aides to County Executive Steve Bellone said would have raises averaging 1.85 percent a year.

The administration said the agreement keeps the 12-step system for reaching top step for those hired after 2012, instead of five years for longer serving officers. The pact also includes givebacks that will help curtail future cost increases, Bellone officials said.

Bellone aides said the top step in base salary for all officers will be $155,693 a year, up from over $139,000 now.

Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman said PBA leaders in their message to members were putting the agreement, "in the best possible light, which they are expected to do.”

But Kaiman said, “not everyone gets night differential or that much overtime." The contract "changes the culture where overtime is accepted. Overtime will be paid but it will be drastically reduced.”

Bellone administration officials also say new agreements with the PBA and other unions will save taxpayers $40 million annually by requiring all county workers for the first time to pay 2 percent of their salary in the coming year for health coverage. The contribution will increase by .1 percent each year until it reaches 2.5 percent. 

Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) blamed fellow county lawmakers for rushing to ratify the contract with little review.

“I don't blame the police union, I blame the politicians who voted for this contract 24 minutes after receiving the report from the Office of Budget Review which conflicted with the County Executive’s estimates,” said Trotta, a retired Suffolk police detective.

With Sandra Peddie

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