The much-ballyhooed savings in Rockland County from a union agreement to defer 10 days of pay until 2014 have evaporated in the harsh light of County Executive Scott Vanderhoef’s 2013 budget.
The plan smacked of gimmicky when Vanderhoef announced the accord in September, saying that the deferral would save $4.1 million in his upcoming budget.
Vanderhoef’s problem was that the pay deferral wasn’t a real furlough, like those of us in the private sector endured during the recession, and state workers swallowed in 2011, when they had to take nine days off, and didn’t get paid for them.
The Rockland workers will work the days, but won’t get paid until December, 2014. It’s money in the bank, to be paid at 2014 salary rates.
Under accounting rules that Rockland must follow, Vanderhoef’s 2013 budget had to include the salaries that got deferred in the September contract deal, said Steven Grogan, the county’s deputy budget director. The county will have to raise taxes to account for the money earned in 2012 and 2013.
The pay deferral was part of the Civil Service Employees Association contract that froze wages over three years, eliminated step increases, and mandated health-premium contributions of 15 percent for new hires. Grogan told me that savings of $1.2 million were gleaned from the step-increase concession. The payment deferral helps the county’s cash flow, but didn’t provide the savings once hoped for.
“We have to count it,” Grogan said.