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Letter: Suffolk police deal a win

The Suffolk police deal is a win for

The Suffolk police deal is a win for taxpayers, writes William J. Lindsay. Credit: Ed Betz, 2011

I categorically disagree with columnist E.J. McMahon's "Cop deal no big win for taxpayers" [Opinion, Aug. 5]. Due to the inability to negotiate contracts over the last 23 years, the police union received generous awards from arbitrators. Politicians blamed the arbitrators, and the public paid the tax price.

This year, because the county executive and the Police Benevolent Association successfully negotiated a contract, taxpayers have received enormous benefits:

No police raises for 2011, 2012 and the first half of 2013, ensuring there will be no massive retroactive pay hikes.

Suffolk will save $17 million annually in reduced health plan benefits, and new officers will pay 15 percent toward their health insurance.

The county will save $50 million in salaries. Salaries for incoming officers have been frozen until 2020, and it will take them longer -- 12 years rather than five -- to reach top pay.

McMahon lambastes the provision ensuring no cut in police numbers. We don't have enough officers right now, and the shortage keeps getting worse because of attrition. Shortages only increase expensive overtime. New replacements will mean lower costs for years to come.

This was a big win for taxpayers. Obviously, McMahon just doesn't understand what transpired here.

William J. Lindsay, Holbrook

Editor's note: The writer is the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.