Nassau County Legislature approves more than 300 layoffs

The Nassau County Legislature voted Monday to approve the layoffs of more than 300 county employees by year's end, but some of the cuts could be averted through a deal between Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and the Civil Service Employees Association.

The deal, which was reached after the vote, would pay $1,000 per year of service to workers who voluntarily retire.

In exchange for a commitment of a "fair, open transparent process for legislative redistricting," Democrats agreed to authorize $17 million in new borrowing to fund the voluntary separation package and for termination pay. An additional $3 million in bonding is available from a previous round of layoffs.

"The minority leader and I mutually commit to begin the process of meeting and working together to bring about a fair and expeditious redistricting map," Mangano said. "To that end, we have scheduled a meeting for later this week to begin our discussions."
The bonding was then approved unanimously.

"This is a great holiday gift," Mangano said.

Incoming Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), called it "a step in the right direction."

The voluntary retirements would be available to all CSEA members for the next 10 days, although the county could extend it for another 90 days.

CSEA President Jerry Laricchiuta said he hopes to get 150 to 200 members to take the package in the coming months.

CSEA is still negotiating with the county on a larger concessions package, Mangano said.
The layoffs would still go forward Dec. 29. Some employees could get rehired, officials said, if the separation package is extended through next year.

The layoffs passed the GOP-controlled legislature by an 11-6 vote earlier in the day. The bill, which would save the county more than $70 million, authorizes Mangano to lay off or demote 385 full-time county employees, including more than 300 CSEA members.

Minority Leader Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) and Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury) were not present for the vote.

Laricchiuta said the layoffs would be preventable through a modest tax increase. "For the price of a cup of coffee each week, we could have saved all of these jobs and services," he said.

The bill also authorizes the layoffs of 149 part-time workers, according to the Office of Legislative Budget Review. In addition, 153 vacant full-time positions would be eliminated and another 43 part-time vacant spots would go unfilled.

The county will determine the precise number of layoffs next week, said Deputy County Executive Rob Walker.

Barbara Goodman, an Assessment Department employee for the past eight years, is among those expecting to be laid off. "I am afraid that if I lose my job, I will lose my house," she told the legislature.

The Budget Review Office found that county operations would be "negatively impacted" by the head-count reductions, which include 144 employees at the Department of Social Services and 105 at Public Works.

The plan also calls for 45 corporals at the county jail to be demoted to correction officers. Sheriff Officers Association president John Jaronczyk said the moves would jeopardize the safety of guards and inmates. "A fight between two inmates could quickly grow into an all-out riot," he said.

No uniformed law enforcement officials would be laid off. But the bill does account for a reduction of $18 million in police spending through the voluntary retirements of police officers, detectives and superior officers.

In total, the measure would save the county $79.3 million, including overtime reductions and fringe benefit savings. The overtime cuts include $4 million at the jail and $1 million at the police department.

But nearly $8 million of those savings would be offset by additional unemployment payments and the loss of federal and state aid, the Budget Review Office said.

Source: News Day