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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Alfonse D'Amato
Binding arbitration leads to higher taxes

We all know the high price we pay for living in Nassau County. There’s always a lot of talk about the blame game, but did you ever think that one person could singlehandedly drive up our taxes?

Well surprise, surprise. Over the past several years, Martin Scheinman, a largely unknown power broker, has made quite a career as an arbitrator for thousands of public employees. The deals he has helped hammer out between public employee unions and county officials have impacted millions of taxpayers.

His latest deal, however, has raised more than a few eyebrows and will prove to be another nail in the coffin of the Nassau County taxpayer.

Last week, Newsday reported that an arbitration panel gave a 40 percent raise to 43 investigators in the district attorney’s office. This included both current and former investigators. Their salaries jumped a grotesque 40 percent during the week of Jan. 7.

According to Newsday, the investigators were making an average of $86,400 per year, and the salaries ranged from $46,000 to $109,000. The new wage scale increases their salaries to an average of $121,000, with a low of $98,000 and a high of $190,000 — all almost overnight!

Why the dramatic increase? Scheinman and his panel decided that these investigators, who were formerly part of the Civil Service Employees Association, should instead receive the salaries and benefits of the county’s Detectives Association.

The increase in salaries will cost the county an extra $1.5 million. Also entangled in the agreement is approximately $3 million in retroactive pay, and mandated benefits that include extra pay for years of service, clothing and equipment allowances. And let’s not forget 24 days of sick leave a year and 27 vacation days.

Many of these investigators are retired police officers who already receive state pensions. According to a Newsday editorial on the issue, “Thirty of the 42 are retirees who have waivers allowing them to collect public pensions and earn full salaries from another government employer.”

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