Suffolk bill would end automatic electeds' raises, starting 2016

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Suffolk Legis. William Lindsay III has filed his bill to roll back the automatic pay raises for top elected officials, but his proposed local law would not stop raises next year.

The measure, put before lawmakers last week, would continue raises in 2015 — the year when legislative salaries will likely top $100,000 a year — but end them in 2016 when the current term of legislators runs out. For district attorney, sheriff and treasurer, the automatic pay hikes could not end until after 2017.

Under the current law, county elected officials automatically get annual raises of 4 percent or the regional consumer price index increase, whichever is less. However, some lawmakers and County Executive Steve Bellone have voluntarily taken less than the maximum salary allowed by law. Legislative Counsel George Nolan said drafting the legislation was “tricky” because state law does not allow diminishing salaries for elected officials during their terms.

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While Lindsay's bill would not diminish salaries, Nolan said a 1991 state attorney general opinion involving White Plains also found that any law that in mid-term “eliminates one or more scheduled salary increases would effectively constitute a reduction of salary.” However, Nolan said such a change could be made if the local law were subject to a mandatory referendum.

Lindsay said he would have preferred that the law take effect immediately but he felt the transition was “neater and cleaner” than going the referendum route.

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