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Mangano sits down with union leaders, NIFA

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announces a new

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announces a new plan to cut more costs. (March 16, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

For the first time since a state watchdog took control of Nassau's finances, County Executive Edward Mangano sat down yesterday with union leaders and representatives of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority to talk labor concessions.

Mangano said his goal was to set guidelines for negotiations as he attempts to wring $60 million in personnel savings out of this year's $2.6-billion budget.

But after the hourlong meeting behind closed doors in Mangano's Mineola office, several union leaders doubted they would negotiate new concessions.

"We would have to endure massive layoffs, massive givebacks and still have the possibility of NIFA invoking wage freezes," said Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau's Civil Service Employees Association. "We're going to try to work through it, but it just might not be doable."

Mangano called the labor "summit" after a state court judge last Monday rejected his attempt to block the takeover. Although Mangano maintains his budget is balanced, the six-member NIFA board found a $176-million deficit and voted in January to take control of the county's finances. NIFA also ordered Mangano to present a new financial plan by Tuesday.

Mangano yesterday said he proposed negotiation sessions with all five county unions from Friday through March 29. He said outside labor counsel Peter Bee will lead the talks.

NIFA board member Chris Wright, accompanied by NIFA Executive Director Evan Cohen, represented the oversight agency.

"While we're in a control period, NIFA is committed to being as actively engaged in this process as the statute allows us to be," Wright said afterward. "The county has a real deficit that's going to require meaningful action."

Mangano said he will not increase property taxes in his plan, which will cut $50 million through layoffs and personnel reductions. He also has asked the NIFA board to freeze wages, for another $10 million in savings.

NIFA can freeze salaries if it declares a fiscal emergency. The agency board is expected to consider Mangano's request Thursday. Mangano said the agency must act by then to stop April 1 pay hikes for members of the Police Benevolent Association. Wage hikes are scheduled for the Superior Officers Association and the detectives union on July 1, and the CSEA on Nov. 1.

SOA president Gary Learned said concessions will be a "tough sell" if NIFA imposes a freeze.

"If they get a zero wage freeze, I don't know if my members will want to go further," he said. "If this happens again in 2012, they could get hit with another zero."

PBA president James Carver is waiting to see Mangano's plan. "There's a lot of questions but no answers."

With Dan Janison

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