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Nassau appointees get $4.4M more in salary, benefits from elected officials who appointed them

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is seen on

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

Nassau elected officials have awarded $4.4 million in salary hikes and benefits to their appointees since the county's financial control board lifted a three-year wage freeze on the nonunion workers in August, records show.

County Comptroller George Maragos on Monday released the list of raises submitted to his office from the end of August through Dec. 19, the last county payroll of the year.

Countywide, appointees received an average 8.2 percent pay increase, although the amount varies by department. Altogether, the county has granted $3.4 million in pay hikes to appointees. Including fringe benefits, their increases will cost the county about $4.38 million annually.

Since the county's financial control board approved new labor contracts and lifted the pay freeze on most union employees in May, members of the Civil Service Employees Association received raises of about 7.7 percent, while police union hikes averaged 14.3 percent, Maragos said.

Additional pay raises are expected to be requested for staff of the county legislature, officials said.

Maragos had called for elected officials to hold their salary increases to about 8 percent. He said Monday they had "struck a good balance between fiscal responsibility and the need to retain and motivate talented employees."

Records show that 100 appointees, who can be hired or fired at will, received raises of $10,000 or more. The highest salary increase, of $47,000 a year, went to assistant District Attorney Jessica Cepriano, raising her salary from $68,000 to $115,000 -- a 69 percent increase.

Shams Tarek, spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said Cepriano's salary jumped because she was promoted to a deputy bureau chief.

Rice, who was elected to Congress in November and will be leaving her county office next month, gave out $1.5 million in raises to about 94 percent of her appointed staff, mostly attorneys. The pay increases averaged 11.81 percent. Seven of the raises were given retroactively -- four as far back as December 2013 -- "for promotions in which the employees have been working without the corresponding pay raises," Tarek said.

County Clerk Maureen O'Connell, whose office is staffed primarily by union employees, granted pay increases to only one of her eight appointees. Deputy County Clerk John Ferretti received a $20,000 raise, from $105,000 to $125,000.

County Executive Edward Mangano awarded 228 raises throughout his administration, totaling $1.65 million.

Records show that all of his personal office staff received pay hikes. They include Chief Deputy Rob Walker, whose salary increased from $159,101 to $180,361; communications director Brian Nevin, whose pay jumped from $138,976 to 157,547; and Deputy County Executive Ed Ward, whose salary climbed from $166,000 to $174,000.

Other top Mangano appointees who received raises were Sheriff Michael Sposato, whose salary went from $154,000 to $174,578; County Attorney Carnell Foskey, who was bumped from $142,643 to $161,704; and Deputy Parks Commissioner Francis Camerlengo, whose salary increased from $125,000 to $141,703.

Camerlengo had received a raise in January 2014 from $99,000 to $125,000 despite the countywide pay freeze because, Mangano said, he had taken on additional duties. Mangano this spring proposed the county buy a defunct nursery owned by Camerlengo, but shelved the plan after intense political opposition.

A Mangano spokeswoman said the raises "simply place" appointees "in-line" with union employees. She said Mangano has cut more than 100 nonunion jobs since taking office.

Maragos gave 8 percent raises to six of his 12 appointees, for a total of $37,360. The increases reflected "the need to retain and motivate talented employees," a spokesman said.

The county legislature's largest raise went to Budget Review director Maurice Chalmers, whose salary increased by $26,000 to $152,000. During the wage freeze, Chalmers' salary had been held at the level of "acting director."

Some raises have been granted to Republican legislative staff members, and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) has requested hikes for several of the Democratic staffers that have yet to be submitted to the comptroller.

Abrahams said in a statement, "Unlike the County Executive and other Departments, the Office of the Minority Legislature shared in solidarity with the County workers who were affected by the wage freeze these past few years by freezing our own staff's wages as well. Now that the wage freeze has been lifted we moved to make appropriate increases to some of our employees salaries."

Not all appointees received raises: 157 of the about 600 nonunion employees did not receive any pay increase.

Elected officials again waived automatic pay increases approved by the county legislature in 2007.

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