(Hauppauge, NY-August 2, 2012) Today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President Noel DiGerolamo announced agreement on a landmark 10-year contract. The deal, which would represent the first negotiated contract in more than 20 years, breaks the cynical cycle of arbitration and makes historic progress in saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Bellone referred to the deal as a "game changer" for Suffolk County, noting that it will make huge strides toward reducing the size of the deficit as well as making sure that public safety decisions are made in the best interest of Suffolk County residents.
"The rules of the game have been that contracts have been settled through arbitration, resulting in spiraling costs and allowing elected officials to duck responsibility and giving them political cover to attack law enforcement," County Executive Bellone said. "This contract is a game changer where we are working together with the PBA to change the rules of the game to put taxpayers and public safety first."
“This is an historic event both due to the length of the contract and because we were able to negotiate and not have to go to arbitration,” remarked PBA President DiGerolamo. “It has been a pleasure to work with an administration that truly wanted to find a fair and equitable solution that serves the taxpayers well and ensures the continuity of the police department.”
Among the highlights of the contract which would extend from 1/1/2011 through 12/31/2020:
• Massive Deficit Relief: Zero percent increase for 2011, 2012 and the first half of 2013 and 1.5% for the following year saving Suffolk County tens of millions towards reducing the deficit. Subsequent years have increases below historic arbitration awards and recently announced police contracts in Suffolk County.
The agreement also insures that moving forward for new officers:
• More affordable: The starting salary for new officers will remain frozen at $42,000. So essentially a new officer in 2020 will be starting at the same salary that an officer started with 20 years earlier in 2001. In addition, it currently takes just 5 years to reach top pay. Significantly, this agreement adds 7 additional steps so that it will now take 12 years for a new officer to reach top pay.
• This will essentially be the first time that any local police officer at the County, Town or Village level is paying into health care on Long Island.
The agreement also provides for immediate health care savings:
• $17 million in recurring savings guaranteed through the Employee Medical Health Plan. Because of the agreement with the PBA, Suffolk County negotiated a deal with every county union that requires 15% in health care contributions from all new employees. Every county union signed onto that deal two days ago.
By making it more affordable to hire future officers, this contract ensures Suffolk County can protect public safety. Based on the hundreds of millions in savings provided by this agreement, elected officials can make public safety decisions on the merits and stop pitting law enforcement against one another. Upon ratification of this contract, the Suffolk County Police Department will once again assume patrol responsibility for the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway.
"This agreement is a big step forward in addressing the County's fiscal crisis and with this agreement we can just start to see some light at the end of the tunnel," Bellone said. "However, I want to make it clear we still have a long way to go and much work to do to solve this problem."
For the agreement to take effect, it must be ratified by the membership of the PBA within 30 days and approved by the Suffolk County Legislature.
Pictured left to right (Presiding Officer William Lindsay, PBA, 1st Vice President-Lou Tutone, PBA President-Noel DiGerolamo, County Executive Steve Bellone, Police Chief-Jim Burke, Leg. Rick Montano, Leg. William Spencer, Acting Police Commissioner-Edward Webber.)