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Steve Levy- & Panel- Center for Cost Effective Government

March 21, 2014 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Today’s meeting consisted of a panel featuring Steve Levy, NYS Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick and the president of Dowling College Dr. Norman Smith. Mr Levy began by outlined the problems that are causing our taxes to rise at a faster rate than inflation. The message on issues known as the The Triborough Amendment, binding arbitration, gaming the retirement payouts were discussed at length.


Mr. Fitzpatrick is an assemblyman that has introduced a bill that will address these anomalies that are adversely affecting our ability to sustain local and state budgets. He gave us his overview and the resistance to change that he is dealing with.


Dowling president Dr. Norman Smith was included in the panel to reflect the concerns of that part of the economy that are not directly involved with government. Dr Smith then spoke few minutes about the status of the college.


The Tri-borough Amendment allows labor cost increases even without a union contract. Here is how it works. There are two parts to labor cost increases, one is negotiated, and the other is termed "step increases." If a union contract runs out than the part that is negotiated does not increase, but the step increases continue unabated. This feature is unheard of in the private sector, nor is it a practice in other states or federal employment.


Binding arbitration was established to overcome an impasse. If the negotiators could not agree a panel that is supposed to be neutral would negotiate. As it turns out the binding arbitration panel merely increases an agreement wage based on the last highest wage agreement and adds on a little more.


Gaming retirement is the practice of using the last years of employment to boost the retirement pay. For example- If a policeman is earning $125,000 per year and boosts his overtime to $200,000 before retirement his retirement pay is based on that higher amount. This usually results in the retiree receiving more in retirement than his regular pay. Nowhere in industry or other states are pensions paid this way.


The above were the main points, but there are myriad of issues such as accumulated sick pay, and accumulated vacation pay. In industry if you fail to use sick time or vacation time it will eventually be withdrawn.


The room was filled with people who had many comments and questions. Some of them had knowledge of what the speakers were going to say, but others were new to the topic and felt that the session was enlightening and provocative.


Ernie Fazio


Sponsor for this meeting – Campola, Middleton & McCormick – Thank you


LIMBA staff , Annette Krauss, and Ken Nevor . Michelle Zere was the director for this program and it was great topic. Thanks


LI News Radio 103.9 was taping the meeting and will play excerpts on the air -Thank you station manager Matt Goldapper.


Our door prize today was two tickets to any show at the Engeman Theater in Northport from the owner, Kevin O’Neil- Thanks


Much thanks to all the participants for an excellent program – Bill Miller and Ernie Fazio