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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Binding arbitration leads to higher taxes
(Page 2 of 2)
This is an absolute sham. Many taxpayers are wondering how this could happen. You may recall that Nassau County’s finances are currently under the control of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. NIFA serves as a financial control board, and it has imposed a freeze on all county wages, thus eliminating annual pay increases.

The county investigators’ $3 million in retroactive pay dates back to Jan. 1, 2011, which is three months before NIFA took control of all country finances; thus NIFA has no jurisdiction on the matter.

We are in an economic crisis. How much longer is Nassau County going to be subject to decisions made by public arbitrators, such as Scheinman, who is obviously in the pocket of the unions?

Richard Zuckerman, Nassau’s representative on the arbitration panel, wrote that giving the investigators this type of raise “is inconceivable to me . . . while the county remains under NIFA’s jurisdiction and in the middle of a severe financial crisis that makes the county’s ability to pay for this award at best doubtful.”

Scheinman has a long history of controversial decisions. He has repeatedly given Long Island police unions generous awards, making them among the nation’s highest-paid officers. Meanwhile, our taxes continue to rise astronomically, and people are being forced to move out of Nassau County.

Nassau politicians have complained about Scheinman’s reach in the past, but to no avail. He continues to handle Nassau’s gluttonous police contracts. The current system is taking decisions that should be made by trusted elected officials whom the people elect and putting them in the hands of special-interest captives such as Scheinman.

Suffolk Country was wise enough to enact the so-called “Scheinman Law” in 1998, which bans the county from using arbitrators who have worked in Nassau during the previous three years.

New York’s lawmakers must overhaul binding arbitration laws and put some power into the hands of local officials whose constituents are footing the tax bill. In the meantime, it is long past time for Nassau County to adopt the same policy as Suffolk County and bar Scheinman from participating in any arbitrations.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.

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