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LIPA rescinds employees' 2 percent pay raises

The Long Island Power Authority Thursday rescinded a previously approved plan to give most of its employees 2 percent pay raises for 2010, officials said.

At a LIPA trustees meeting where interim chairman Howard Steinberg was formally named chairman, LIPA chief Kevin Law said a decision to pull back trustee-approved raises stemmed from a recognition of Long Islanders' struggles.

"Given the economic climate, it was hard to be giving out raises, modest as they were," he said after the meeting. "With Long Islanders struggling in so many ways I thought it appropriate to freeze salaries."

The raises were to take effect Feb. 1.

When they approved LIPA's 2010 budget in December, LIPA trustees approved $169,000 in raises for LIPA employees. Of LIPA's 101 employees, 90 percent were scheduled to receive 2 percent increases. Others' pay was based on performance: five people were to receive a 4 percent increase and 5 were to receive no increase at all, Law said, noting that LIPA officers, including himself, were never slated to receive an increase.

Steinberg noted that LIPA would have been the only public authority in the state giving its employees raises. "While we would like to do it, it's just not the year to be doing that," he said.

Gov. David A. Paterson last year canceled pay raises for nonunion state employees, this year's budget does the same, noted Lise Bang-Jensen, senior policy analyst at the Empire Center for New York State Policy. And while LIPA as a state authority is free to enact raises, "If you were running for re-election [as Paterson is expected to], you wouldn't want pay raises on Long Island, where a lot of people have lost their jobs and electric rates are high," Bang-Jensen said.Said Law, "LIPA employees do a great job and this was not done to hurt them but to show our customers we are trying to control costs and be sensitive to the economic climate out there."

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