Suffolk County, unions reach 'landmark' deal

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced what he's calling a landmark agreement between the county and all of its unions.Officials say county unions have

BOHEMIA - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced what he's calling a landmark agreement between the county and all of its unions.Officials say county unions have agreed that all new employees will contribute 15 percent to their health insurance. But Bellone admits there will be no new hires anytime soon because of the county's $300 million budget deficit.Still, Bellone says the deal will immediately save the cash-strapped county $50 million. He says the county will save $17 million each year through its health insurance plan by cutting care and increasing copays. The county executive has also reached a deal with Suffolk's police union that he says will save the county more than $30 million. He says new hires within the police department will now take 12 years to get to the top pay bracket instead of the current five years.Suffolk police will also go back to patrolling the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway once the new contract goes into effect.

The agreement must still be approved by members of the police union and by the Suffolk County Legislature.

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