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Hempstead board hikes its own pay

The Hempstead Town Board Tuesday approved a package of $47,000 in raises for its members and the town clerk.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and town Clerk Mark Bonilla will each get a $10,000 raise, and the six council members will get $4,500 raises. All are elected officials and last received increases in 2007.

The 6-to-0 vote came after an emotional plea from a Merrick civic activist urging spending restraint.

"To quote Supervisor Murray, 'Taxpayers are hurting,' " said Claudia Borecky, president of the North Merrick Civic Association and a former aide to Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick).

"If you were really sincere about that, then how could you in good conscience give yourself more than a 7 percent raise when the Consumer Price Index is less than one percent?"

The raises, which take effect Jan. 31, increase the supervisor's salary to $150,000, the town clerk to $106,500 and the council members to $66,000.

Borecky added that county legislators, who earn $39,500, haven't gotten a raise since 1999.

"This practice of giving yourselves raises right after an election has to stop," she said. The board has approved raises after each of the past three elections, in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Murray and Bonilla were re-elected in November, as were council members Tony Santino, Gary Hudes and Dorothy Goosby, who was absent from yesterday's meeting.

Borecky asked if Murray would agree to state that the administration would not seek pay increases after the 2011 election, for the 2012 budget.

Murray said "no."

The Oyster Bay Town Board also approved raises Tuesday, the first since 2006. The supervisor's salary went to $140,000 from $125,000 and the board members' pay rose to $57,500 from $52,500. North Hempstead's Democratic supervisor has earned $133,000 since 2005 and each board member $40,000.

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