After report, Suffolk lawmaker returns raise

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Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said that she Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said that she has arranged to return to the comptroller's office the difference between her 2012 and 2013 salaries that she has already received: about $776, she said. (May 20, 2013) Photo Credit: James Escher

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One of seven Suffolk County legislators who voted last year to create a voluntary wage freeze program but took their raise anyway is giving the money back.

Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said Tuesday that she has arranged to return to the comptroller’s office the difference between her 2012 and 2013 salaries that she has already received: about $776, she said. For the rest of this year, Anker will now be paid at the 2012 rate for legislators, which comes to $93,958 over the full year.

She had been receiving pay that would have totaled $96,570 by year’s end.

Anker’s action comes a little more than a week after Newsday reported the discrepancy between some of the legislators’ votes and actions.

Twelve lawmakers had voted in June 2012 to allow county elected officials to decline their annual cost-of-living raises this year — a largely symbolic measure because they already had that power. The vote came as Suffolk faced a projected $530 million deficit and layoffs of 300 rank-and-file workers.

But of the 12, only five turned down the automatic 2.8 percent increase due them in January, according to the comptroller's and legislative clerk's offices.

Some of the seven lawmakers who supported creating the voluntary program, but still accepted raises, defended their actions by saying that they’d already deferred pay as part of another program — and that their vote was mostly meant to spur unionized county workers to accept a wage freeze. When the workers did not follow suit, some of the lawmakers said they thought it was appropriate to collect the automatic cost-of-living increases, as many other county officials did.

Anker, however, said in the original story that her lack of participation in the wage freeze program was an oversight, and that she would try to rectify it.

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