Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, now facing federal corruption charges, took a $17,007 annual pay raise in July in the midst of the county’s ongoing budget crisis.
The increase brings Mangano’s 2017 annual pay to $191,621 — higher than Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s $187,000 and more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $179,000 salary.
Mangano, a Republican, had campaigned against his Democratic predecessor Thomas Suozzi for accepting a salary boost from $109,394 to $174,614 in 2008 as part of a group of pay raises approved by the county legislature for all countywide officials. But Suozzi never took the subsequent automatic cost-of-living increases included in the pay-raise bill.
Mangano also refused the automatic increases until July 1, according to county comptroller records. Then he took nearly all the 10.3 percent in retroactive cumulative cost-of-living increases he was entitled to. Based on the consumer price index for all urban consumers from 2009 through 2015, Mangano could have taken a $17,920 raise.
Deputy County Executive Ed Ward said Mangano chose not to take the pay raises “during our most financially pressing times. He went six years without an increase.”
Mangano decided to join the “cola process” when county union employees received cost-of-living increases in July, Ward said.
“The decision was made to stay consistent with other elected officials,” said Ward, referring to District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Singas’ pay rose by $27,000 this year to an annual salary of $193,000. But Singas’ raise was mandated by state law, which requires district attorneys to be paid the same as supreme court justices within the same jurisdiction. Judicial salaries increased to $193,000 on April 1. The state pays nearly $76,800 of her salary, a Singas spokesman said.
Nassau’s other two countywide elected officials — Comptroller George Maragos and Clerk Maureen O’Connell — have not taken the cost of living increases, leaving their salaries at the 2008 level of $166,300. Both said Monday they have no plans to take a raise.
“I declined the statutory automatic pay raises because of the perilous situation with the county’s finances,” O’Connell said. “If it (the county) continues on a perilous path, I will continue to decline it.”
Maragos, a Republican turned Democrat who plans to run for county executive in 2017, said, “I do not believe that it is appropriate for elected officials to accept salary increases in light of the fiscal challenges facing the county.”
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s financial control board, projects Nassau will have a $100 million budget deficit next year even if all revenues and savings in Mangano’s proposed budget are realized.
Mangano last week was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and forgery by federal prosecutors. They alleged that Mangano received gifts from indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh while Mangano’s wife Linda was paid $450,000 for a no-show job. In return, prosecutors contend, Singh received $440,000 in county contracts. Mangano has denied the charges.
Ward said all county employees received a cost of living increase this year. However, only union employees were guaranteed the 3.5 percent increase — not appointees — and that came after negotiations and concessions with NIFA and the county.
Jerry Laricchuita, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, said he didn’t know about Mangano’s pay hike.
“Everyone is entitled to a COLA raise,” Laricchuita said. “However, we had to negotiate our COLA raise. We had to do concessions to get that.”
James Carver, president of the Police Benevolent Association, also said he was not aware of Mangano’s increase.
“The employees went through a wage freeze,” Carver said. “Litigation is still pending. In addition, the employees had to give concessions to get some of the contractual raises back. The same should apply with the county executive.”
A spokesman for Republican county legislators said, “Under the salary structure created by Tom Suozzi in 2008, the County Executive and District Attorney may choose to take a pay raise, independent of any legislative authority.”
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) declined to comment.
County legislators have voted to increase their salaries $39,500 to $75,000 starting in January 2018.