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Freeze on pay increases blocked in Suffolk

Presiding Officer Duwayne Gregory speaks as members of

Presiding Officer Duwayne Gregory speaks as members of the Suffolk County Legislature attend an annual organizational meeting inside the Rose Y. Caracappa Auditorium at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge on Jan. 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A Suffolk legislative on Wednesday blocked County Executive Steve Bellone’s proposal to freeze step pay increases for nonunion employees on July 1, saying it would do little to close the county budget deficit.

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) called for the tabling, which prevents the resolution from going to the full legislature for a vote Tuesday.

“We need real solutions, not political solutions,” said Gregory, saying the measure would affect only lower level appointees and career staff.

Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) and Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) joined Gregory on the tabling vote.

While 433 county employees are in appointed exempt positions, only 269 would be affected by the freeze on step increases based on experience, a legislative budget analyst testified.

Bellone has estimated the freeze would save $1.2 million.

Opposing the tabling were Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) and William Lindsay III (D-Oakdale). “We have to start somewhere,” said Kennedy, who said she did not take a $582 cost of living raise on top of her $100,272 salary in 2016.

“I believe we should lead by example, and I am committed to working with the Legislature to develop a comprehensive budget savings plan,” Bellone said last night.

Bellone called for the freeze and other cost-saving steps last month after lawmakers balked at authorizing fees already in the 2017 budget, including a $5.5 million hike in traffic violation fees that could have raised the cost of a ticket to $110.

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