Bill to cap officials' pay fails in Suffolk

The Suffolk County Legislature seal in the lobby The Suffolk County Legislature seal in the lobby of the legislature building in Hauppauge, seen on Aug. 14, 2012. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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A proposed law to end automatic pay increases for Suffolk County's elected officials died Wednesday after the bill's sponsor failed to get a second lawmaker to support moving the bill out of committee.

Bill sponsor Legis. William J. Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) said the law would "send a strong message to constituents that we're doing everything we can to get our financial situation under control."

Suffolk legislators earn $98,260 a year for the part-time position, though some have it as their only job. Five countywide elected officials each make $189,248 a year and the county executive's salary is $218,361. County Executive Steve Bellone has frozen his salary at $187,000 since he took office in 2012. County legislators Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), Sarah S. Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) also voluntarily take less than the maximum salary.

The county charter provides elected officials with automatic pay increases of 4 percent a year or the increase in the regional consumer price index, whichever is lower.

Over the past 10 years, pay increases for elected officials have averaged 2.73 percent a year, according to an analysis by the legislative Budget Review Office.

In Nassau County, legislators earn $39,500 a year and haven't gotten a raise since the county legislature was created in 1996, but the salaries of the county executive and four other countywide elected positions were increased in 2008.

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"We're out of parity with other jurisdictions," Lindsay said at the government operations committee. "We've cut in so many other places, it's time to look at ourselves and other elected officials."

Suffolk's legislation would have saved between $338,697 to $512,000 between 2015 and 2018, depending on how many local officials took the automatic pay increases, according to the Budget Review Office.

Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) was the only lawmaker during the meeting to give a reason for not seconding the bill. He is term limited and said it wouldn't be appropriate for him to be the deciding factor in moving a bill to limit colleagues' salaries when the measure wouldn't affect him.

In an interview, Bellone said he would have signed the bill stopping automatic pay raises, but said it was up to the legislators to decide whether to pass the bill.

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