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The wait in the unemployment line was a short one for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s wife.
Tracey Bellone, 39, has been appointed Babylon Town Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, a post she held from 1999 to 2004 before becoming the Suffolk deputy commissioner of parks in 2004.
Last April her husband — who was elected county executive the previous November — laid off his wife, who was on maternity leave, from her $110,000-a-year position as part of a round of layoffs intended to help with the county’s fiscal crisis. Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said at the time that she was included because “no one is exempt from the pain.”
Tracey Bellone began working for Babylon Town two weeks ago. She will earn $89,128, up from the $62,336 earned by her predecessor, Celeste Kusmierski, who moved to a position in the town’s youth bureau. That change, plus related staffing moves, make up for the nearly $27,000 more Bellone will earn in the position, Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer said.
Schaffer hired Bellone — then Tracey Scala — to work in his office in 1995 during his first tenure as town supervisor and it was during this time that she met and began dating Steve Bellone, who had been hired that same year as an aide by his childhood friend Schaffer. Schaffer appointed her deputy commissioner of parks in 1999.
“I’m well aware of her talents and her qualifications and I couldn’t think of anyone better to have working for me than her,” Schaffer said. Her experience will be vital as the town rebuilds from superstorm Sandy, he said.
“I’ve watched her grow up so it’s not like she’s just some political person off the street,” he said. “I don’t think she should be held back because of who she’s married to.”