A budget deficit and the threat of a credit downgrade hasn’t stopped Suffolk County from shelling out even more money to its cops, who are already among the highest paid in the country.
A committee of the county legislature signed off this week on a 3.375 percent annual increase that would raise the base pay for sergeants from $135,915 this year to $162,843 in 2018.
That comes a couple of weeks after lawmakers approved a hike for detectives that would pay them more than $227,000 by 2018 once overtime and other extras are included.
By comparison, Gov. Cuomo earns $179,000, while Mayor de Blasio makes $225,000.
The new contracts came even as Suffolk ended 2013 with a preliminary deficit of $10 million to $13 million, after finishing 2012 with a $155 million deficit.
Moody’s Investors Service, a Wall Street bond rating firm has been examining Suffolk’s debt for a possible downgrade.
The higher police salaries are being funded by a property-tax increase that will cost the average homeowner an additional $20 a year.
The pay hikes are “pretty substantial,” Tim Hoefer, executive director of The Empire Center for Public Policy.
“The argument isn’t whether or not they’re making too much. It’s whether or not the tax base can afford to pay these salaries.”
New rank-and-file cops start off at $42,000, under a contract approved in 2012.
Among those with a keen interest in the Suffolk deal are NYPD cops, who have been working without a contract since 2010 and whose rookies start out at $41,000.
The Suffolk County salaries, and the easier workload, have attracted NYPD cops for years.
But with limited vacancies, relatively few have been able to make the jump recently.
New York has 34,500 uniformed officers. Suffolk County has 2,500.
“I don’t begrudge Suffolk cops,” said Ed Mullins, president of New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Association. “It’s a pretty nice atmosphere. But in New York City, there’s crime all over the place. In so many ways, we’re a small army, and we’re not compensated for that.”
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association spokesman Al O’Leary said union negotiators would definitely go to the bargaining table with the Suffolk deal in hand.
“New York City police, by virtue of the difficulty of the job, should be among the highest-paid in the country,” O’Leary said.
Suffolk’s salary increase proposal for its sergeants and superior officers goes before the county’s full legislature on Tuesday.
© 2013, New York Post
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