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Police, public employee salaries to be explained at Sag Harbor forum

Former Suffolk Legislator Bill Jones is presenting a forum on the state’s Taylor Law on Saturday because, he says, it’s important to educate people about salary negotiations for public employees.

Jones is concerned, specifically, with the issue of binding arbitration — the mechanism which determines how much police officers and other public employees not allowed to strike will get paid, should their union and the municipality they work for fail to reach agreement on a contract.

His talk, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Pierson High School auditorium in Sag Harbor, will cover initial negotiations and submissions to an arbitration panel, how arbitrators determine a town or village’s ability to pay, and how they compare different contracts to decide what is fair.

Jones says people have complained about public employee pay for a long time, and local governments and unions have negotiated for low current pay in exchange for hefty retirement benefits in the future. But Jones says the system is “broken,” and that the only way to change it is for the state legislature to do so. Still, he says, “It’s proper to expose the unfairness that exists in the current process ... ”

Jones said he is speaking in Sag Harbor because he is a former village trustee and because the village — which last year talked about disbanding its small police department because of high costs — is still undecided about how to deal with its financial problems.

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