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Oceanside garbage district gives supervisor raise

Charles Scarlata leaves the Oceanside Sanitation Department on

Charles Scarlata leaves the Oceanside Sanitation Department on Mott Street. (Nov. 17, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

A week after county auditors harshly criticized the extraordinary pay package of the Oceanside garbage supervisor in October, district commissioners gave him a merit raise, officials said Tuesday.

The $40-a-week raise, which was given to all 15 administrators and office workers beginning Nov. 7, will bring the pay of sanitary district No. 7 supervisor Charles Scarlata to at least $199,750 this year. That includes his base pay of nearly $155,000, plus payments largely for accrued comp time, and it will make him one of the highest-paid public officials on Long Island, according to records. His regular annual increase, plus the merit raise, add up to a nearly 6 percent jump over last year.

>> READ: Past coverage of Charles Scarlata

That does not include the extras he gets, such as a leased 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, a $15,000 payment for life insurance and post-retirement pay of $25,000 a year for 15 years on top of his pension, among other items, according to the audit, which was released Oct. 29.

"It's outrageous, and it underlines how little we can do about our government," said Oceanside resident Carl Flatow.

"It just shows the arrogance and the feeling that they can get away with it," said Omar Henriquez, a community activist who has researched special districts and their impact on taxes. "The special district is designed so that it doesn't encourage [public] involvement."

Commissioners approved the raise, despite the audit, because they felt it was deserved, said Thomas Dapolito, one of the five district commissioners. "He really deserves it because he works very hard."

Scarlata was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Another commissioner, Louis DeVito, said Scarlata was not overpaid. "I think it's in line with what other people with that experience are making."

In fact, records show, Scarlata earns more than supervisors of the other 10 independent sanitation districts in Nassau County. Currently, his base pay for 2009 is $2,978.99 a week, or $154,908 a year. The district serves 10,950 customers and has 57 employees, in addition to the commissioners.

By comparison, annual salaries for district garbage supervisors range from $2,600 for the commissioner-run Glenwood garbage district in North Hempstead, which contracts out its garbage collection, to $140,790 for the superintendent of sanitary district No. 1 in Lawrence.

In addition, Scarlata is allowed to get payment for comp days added on to his salary, a $450 shoe and optical allowance, salary "adjustments" or bonuses and post-retirement pay after he leaves the district. He also gets a new car for personal and district use, two $300,000 life insurance policies and health and dental benefits worth $16,200 a year, according to the audit.

Records show that other district supervisors don't get all those extras. While some get cars and benefits in the larger districts, none get post-retirement pay on top of pensions. And smaller districts often are run on a shoestring.

"We get nothing," said Joanne DelVecchio, commissioner of the Carle Place garbage district, where commissioners handle the administrative work and contract out for garbage collection. "We pay for our own gas, use our own car, use our home phones, our own cell phones, get no benefits."

She added, "I think they abuse the system."

>> READ: Past coverage of Charles Scarlata

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