Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino has negotiated a lean labor agreement proposal between the town and its unionized workforce. The agreement, which was approved by the town board at its July 11, 2017 meeting, constrains annual cost-of-living salary adjustments and other wage-based payments well below the rate at which consumer prices have risen. The agreement also features a number of cost-cutting measures in several areas including employee health insurance and worker’s compensation. The taxpayer-friendly wage and benefits agreement would cover a five-year term, spanning 2017 through 2021.
“Showing the highest regard for our township’s taxpayers and aggressively controlling governmental costs are among my top priorities as Hempstead Town Supervisor,” said Santino. “Keeping cost-of-living salary increases well under the rate of inflation demonstrates my administration’s commitment to living within a strict budget. What’s more, cutting costs in areas such as health insurance and worker’s compensation will demonstrate that government can operate more efficiently, just like a business. I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the town’s CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association), Local 880 President Charlie Sellitto for sharing my commitment to the town’s taxpayers, as well as the members of the CSEA.”
The agreement provides for no cost-of-living adjustment for the first two years of the contract period (2017 and 2018), but rather includes a one-time payment of 1.5 percent in each of those years which will not serve as part of base salary in the calculation of future compensation adjustments. This differs substantially from cost-of-living salary adjustments. For example, an employee who earns $50,000 would receive a $750 “one time” payment in both 2017 and 2018. However, cost-of-living increase included in the third year of the agreement (2019) would still be calculated based upon a salary of $50,000 since the $1,500 “one time” payments ($750 in 2017 and $750 in 2018) would not be counted as a salary increase, but rather “one time” payments. This innovative approach to employee compensation alone would save the town 3 percent in avoided salary cost increases for affected employees over the five-year term of the contract.
The agreement does include cost-of-living salary adjustments in the final three years of the agreement (2019, 2020 and 2021) totaling 1.75, 1.75 and 2.0 percent respectively, increases that remain significantly below the rate at which consumer prices have risen during the first five months of 2017 (the most recent period for which data is available). Indeed, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) for this period has risen by 2.36 percent.
A host of cost-cutting measures are also contained in the agreement. A health insurance cost containment measure would require all employees who select any of the town’s health insurance options, other than the least costly, to pay the difference in cost. This measure would save the town $109,000 in the first year. Another contract component would eliminate the ability of married couples who both work for the town to carry duplicative health insurance coverage (two separate policies). A savings of $300,000 annually would result from this change. More stringent reporting requirements for injured employees who are on workers compensation is anticipated to save up to $2 million per year.
“I am focused on making government run more cost effectively and efficiently for our taxpayers,” said Santino. “We’re controlling costs and operating in a manner that offers genuine accountability to the taxpayers. Doing ‘more with less’ is more than just a phrase in Hempstead Town, it is a way of doing business.”