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New contract grants 2.5% raise to Riverhead Town employees this year

Riverhead Town’s Civil Service Employees Association, which represents most non-police employees in the town, has agreed to a new four-year contract that includes a retirement incentive. 

The contract, approved by the Riverhead Town Board July 2, is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019, at which point each step on the salary increases by 1.25%, followed by a 1% increase in each of the next two years, and a 0.25% increase the fourth year.

But officials say there is a step in the contract that will also increase by 1.25% in each of the four years, making the annual increases 2.5% in 2019; 2.25% in 2020 and 2021, and 1.50% in 2022.

The annual 1.25% step increase was not mentioned in the memorandum of understanding the town distributed outlining the key points in the new contract.

The retirement incentive, approved Tuesday, gives qualifying employees a choice of either accepting fully paid town-provided health insurance for a period of 48 months after they retire, or lump sum payments of $600 per month over a period of 48 months after they retire.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the town was able to give raises in this contract that it hadn’t in the past due to budget constraints.

“We have great employees and it’s been a very long time that they’ve really been rewarded for their work,” she said. “The budget wasn’t balanced, we were always operating at a deficit. We finally had a balanced budget in the last year and we have caught up. So I’m very happy to see they’re getting the increases they deserve and we can pay them for their worth.”

“I think we came out with a fair contract that respects our town employees and we appreciate all of the hard work they do and continue to do,” said Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. “I’m very happy that we were able to come to an agreement on this.”

“I know we’ll lose a lot of great employees and a lot of great knowledge from people that we’ve had here with this retirement incentive, but it makes good fiscal sense to offer the incentive and it’ll benefit the taxpayers,” Ms. Giglio said.

Retirement incentives aim to get older, higher-paid employees to retire and be replaced by younger, less costly ones.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said there are about 17 town employees who qualify for the retirement incentive, although the town doesn’t know yet how many will accept it.

“It was an equitable deal, and the town saves money,” said CSEA president Matt Hattorff.

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