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Top Bellone aides decline step raises
Some of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s top aides formally froze their salaries this week, following a pledge that their boss made in his April state-of-the-county address.
The six executive office employees who started when Bellone took office on Jan. 1 — and were therefore eligible for a step increase beginning Sunday — will not take the bump in pay, said Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, who is one of the people affected. Suffolk will save $26,307 through next June as a result.
More than a dozen other executive employees hired after Jan. 1 also will decline their first eligible step increases next year, Schneider said. Bellone’s office estimates that the total savings, through 2013, from the wage freeze will be about $100,000.
Bellone said in April that he would not be increasing his $187,000 salary next year. That total is $4,000 less than what his predecessor, Steve Levy, was paid, and $21,000 less than the maximum salary he would have been entitled to take, aides said.
Last month, acting on Bellone’s example, the Suffolk County Legislature approved a resolution that calls for its elected members to voluntarily freeze their salaries next year. The largely symbolic action comes as Bellone continues talks with labor unions to gain concessions that would help Suffolk close an estimated multiyear budget deficit of more than $530 million.