Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is seen on Oct. 8,...

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is seen on Oct. 8, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos Wednesday questioned the legality of county lawmakers' granting 31 percent pay increases to the Republican and Democratic election commissioners retroactive to July 1 -- two months before the county's financial control board lifted a wage freeze on Nassau's appointed employees.

In a hand-delivered letter to Jon Kaiman, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, and legislative leaders, Maragos noted the legislature's unanimous vote on Monday to hike the salaries of the two commissioners from $128,000 to $168,000, effective this past July 1. The commissioners will get a 3.75 percent pay hike on April 1, 2015, and a 3.5 percent increase on April 1, 2016.

"We believe that the ordinance granting a retroactive pay increase to county employees prior to Sept. 10 (the lifting of the wage freeze . . . ) contravenes the NIFA Resolution" in March that renewed a 3-year-old wage freeze, Maragos wrote.

"We are not going to process the salary increase until Kaiman gives us guidance in regards to the retroactive pay," said Maragos spokesman Jostyn Hernandez.

NIFA imposed the freeze when it took control of the county's finances in March 2011. The board lifted it in May for four of the five county unions, effective April 1, after County Executive Edward Mangano negotiated concessions in new labor deals. NIFA lifted the freeze on county appointees, who can be hired and fired at will, and correction officers on Sept. 10. Correction officers also agreed to concessions in a new contract that increased salaries, effective June 1.

Kaiman said after receiving Maragos' letter late Wednesday that unlike the union deals, NIFA "did not specify the timing" when it lifted the freeze on appointees but expected county managers to stay within their budgets. "It's up to their own sense of propriety of when they give a raise," Kaiman said. "I don't think we contemplated they would give raises back to day one."

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