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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wake up, NIFA! The PBA deal is a good one.

What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander, friends.

After nearly two years of bitter negotiations, it appears that a deal has been reached between County Executive Ed Mangano and the Police Benevolent Association. Mangano announced that a broad outline of an agreement has been approved, and could potentially mean that Nassau County police officers receive their first salary increase in nearly two years, while saving the county over $320 million in changes to salary, pension and benefits packages.

Sounds like a win-win for taxpayers and a no-brainer for the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state board that has control of the county’s finances.

But I’m only half right. Of course it’s a win-win for taxpayers. But NIFA, which would have to lift the wage freeze imposed on county workers in 2011 in order for the deal to pass, said its terms seem “flawed” and possibly illegal.

This situation smacks of crude politics at the expense of our taxpayers. NIFA is stopping Mangano from doing things that were allowed to take place regularly when Nassau was under the control of former County Executive Tom Suozzi. Why are things different now? Why is Mangano being held to a different standard?

The proof is in the details. This is a good deal, one that took a long time to negotiate and, in good faith, reach an agreeable solution for all involved. It would extend the existing contract, orchestrated by Suozzi, by two years, through 2017, but with lower annual salary increases each year through 2017.

The new contract requires newly hired officers to contribute 15 percent of the cost of their health care plan and between 3 and 6 percent to their pensions. It also forces officers to work an extra year in order to reach the top salary tier of nearly $130,000, and reduces the number of officers who are eligible to take vacation and personal days at the same time, a move that is expected to cut 200,000 hours of overtime annually.

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