Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman received a nearly 8% pay hike for 2022, after accepting accumulated cost-of-living increases that predecessor Laura Curran had declined, payroll records show.
Blakeman's 2022 salary marked the first year the county executive's base pay exceeded $200,000.
Blakeman's salary of $211,821 for 2022 — and the 7.8% increase from 2021 — had not been widely known. The administration disclosed his salary after Newsday inquired about what appeared to be an unusually large jump in county executive pay in Blakeman's 2023 budget, which passed the county Legislature on Oct. 28.
That $220,294 county executive salary for 2023 was significantly higher than expected, given the $196,375 salary for the position listed in the adopted county budget for 2022.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman received a 7.8% pay hike upon taking office in 2022, after accepting accumulated raises that predecessor Laura Curran had declined.
- Blakeman's 2022 salary marked the first year the Nassau County executive's base pay exceeded $200,000.
- Blakeman, a Republican who defeated Curran in 2021, was legally entitled to accept a series of cost-of-living increases that Curran had chosen to forgo during her four-year term in office, a Blakeman spokesman said.
Blakeman, a Republican who defeated Curran in 2021, had been able to legally boost his salary upon taking office by accepting a series of cost-of-living increases that Curran had chosen to forgo during her term in office.
The administration cited a 2007 ordinance that allows the county executive and other countywide officials to take annual raises of 4% or an amount equal to the change in the area's consumer price index, whichever is smaller.
"The County Executive's salary is set statutorily upon taking office," Blakeman spokesman Chris Boyle said in a statement to Newsday.
However, Boyle said Blakeman will not accept the budgeted $220,294 salary next year, and instead will keep his salary at its current $211,821 level.
Upon taking office in 2018, Curran made $196,375. That was 2.4% more than the $191,621 base salary her predecessor, Republican Edward Mangano, made in his final year in office.
Other Long Island county executives have received large salary increases after periods when their salaries were flat.
In July 2017, Mangano accepted a pay raise of $17,007, records show.
Mangano, who was in his last year of his second term in office, had refused automatic pay raises until July 1 of that year, and then accepted more than 10% in accumulated cost-of-living increases.
In September, Mangano began serving a 12-year prison sentence after his conviction on federal corruption charges.
After reelection to a third and final term, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, took a $35,000 pay raise in 2020 after his salary had been $187,000 for eight years.
Bellone justified the jump in pay from $187,000 in 2019 to $222,124 in 2020 by saying he was entitled to the increase under a county law that provides for automatic cost-of-living increases.
A month after his reelection, Bellone wrote in a memo to the county budget director that he would take the increases “in light of the county’s improved financial condition.”
Bellone, who kept his salary at $222,124 for 2022, is entitled to a salary of $232,124 in 2023, although he has not decided how much he will take, spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said.
Despite the fact that Blakeman was entitled to take advantage of cost-of-living raises that had accumulated under Curran, Nassau County Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) said Blakeman sent the wrong signal by accepting the 2022 salary hike.
"We don’t need to increase salaries at a time when taxpayers and residents need relief from the county," Drucker told Newsday. "That should come in the form of a tax reduction, not a salary boost.”
Blakeman's 2023 budget did not lower or increase the county's overall tax levy.
"Even though the charter may allow for it, I think Blakeman’s predecessor showed a real fiscal prudence in not taking the increase and showing some consideration for the taxpayers," Drucker said of Curran.
Legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) countered: "The County Executive salary is set by statute and he is entitled to accept his current salary."
In December 2007, the County Legislature boosted the salaries of Nassau's countywide elected officials. It followed the recommendations of the Nassau County Blue Ribbon Panel for Elected Officials' Salaries. Blakeman served on the bipartisan commission that examined the county pay issue for months.
In a vote of 11-8, legislators approved hiking then-County Executive Thomas Suozzi's $109,394 salary by 60%, to $174,614, for 2008.