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Suffolk's Bellone says he'd keep salary at current level next year if he wins

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Sept 18,

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Sept 18, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

While the proposed 2016 Suffolk budget said that the county executive will make $222,833 next year, Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone last week said he intends his salary to be "at the same level next year" -- $187,000 -- if he's re-elected.

The issue arose because Bellone, who has taken a salary nearly $35,000 below what is permitted in county law, for the first time did not include a footnote in his proposed 2016 budget indicating he would be taking the lesser number. Bellone in his first year on the job promised to keep his annual salary at $187,000 for his full four-year term.

A 1999 county law automatically raises the salaries of elected officials based on the lesser of the increase in the Consumer Price Index or 0.4  percent. This year's CPI would mean a 0.49 percent pay hike.

Bellone said he would keep his salary the same because the county is still struggling to recover financially, and that he did not include the footnote because he did not want to presume his own election or limit a potential successor who might want to take the full salary.

"I'm confident, but there's an election going on," he said.

Meanwhile the county budget also shows that county legislators for the first time will get a six figure salary. Under the law, lawmakers salaries next year will rise from $99,783 to $100,272.

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