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Hempstead approves raises Tuesday for council members’ staff

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney explains raises for employees who work for the town board's Republican majority. Jan. 23, 2018. (Credit: Newsday/Stefanie Dazio)

The Hempstead Town Board on Tuesday voted for 25 personnel moves, including more than $61,000 in raises for 18 employees who work directly for council members.

The raises were approved by a 6-0 vote. Councilman Bruce Blakeman was absent.

All 18 raises are for employees who work for the board’s GOP majority — at least two of whom received previous raises as recently as November and December, according to town board resolutions.

The town board voted earlier this month to consolidate most of the employees into majority and minority staffing pools. Each town board member now has $75,000 to pay for an aide or secretary who reports to him or her; the remaining staff members are shared among the town board majority or minority. Previously, each had worked directly for a town board member.

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, the board’s majority leader, said pooling the staff means some are taking on additional responsibilities.

“I’m a big fan of paying people what they deserve based on performance and responsibility,” she said. “We just wanted to give people a well-deserved raise.”

King Sweeney’s former executive assistant, Alex Vassallo, got a raise in November and received another pay hike on Tuesday, bringing his salary to $82,680. The councilwoman said he’d been long underpaid and now has more duties in the staff pooling system.

Councilman Anthony D’Esposito’s former assistant, Matthew Paccione, got a raise in December as part of nearly 200 personnel moves made at outgoing Supervisor Anthony Santino’s final meeting as the head of the town board. Paccione’s salary was again increased, to $52,000 on Tuesday.

Supervisor Laura Gillen said the funds for the salaries were within the majority’s budget.

“It’s a matter of their discretion,” she said.

Five staffers who worked for Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, a Democrat who usually aligned with Santino, received raises in December during Santino’s last meeting. They were $2,000 to $8,000.

Other personnel moves approved Tuesday include the hiring of Gillen’s former campaign manager, Hunter Gross, as a confidential assistant to the town clerk at a $60,000 salary.

The board also appointed Joseph Davenport, a new $167,500 executive assistant to Gillen, as the secretary to the Joint Village-Town Aircraft Noise Abatement Committee, for an additional $12,000. Santino’s former secretary, Roseann Scandiffio, previously held the secretary post at the abatement committee for the same amount of money. She was transferred last month to the town attorney’s office.

Doreen Ferretti, mother of Nassau Legis. John Ferretti Jr., got a pay bump to $93,090 as executive assistant to the town board.

The board also voted Tuesday to schedule a Feb. 6 public hearing on repealing a $125,000 outside income cap for councilmembers that was passed during Santino’s tenure.

Correction: Doreen Ferretti’s husband is the great-nephew of Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized that relationship.


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