Islip Town's 2020 budget increases taxes by 3.32% and includes raises for elected officials and senior staff, according to town officials.
The average homeowner will pay about $18.52 more a year under the $244.5 million budget, which stays under the state-mandated tax cap. The new budget includes promotional and cost-of-living raises for the town's elected officials and senior staff, including Tracey Krut, who serves as town Supervisor Angie Carpenter's chief of staff.
The town's prepared budget documents show that Krut would make a new salary of $127,900 in the 2020 budget — a 10% increase over her listed salary of $116,360 in the 2019 budget. In January, two months after the 2019 budget was approved, Krut was given a 4.3% raise to $121,379.96, according to town officials. This raise is not listed in the current budget documents posted on the town's website, which still shows Krut as receiving a salary of $116,360. The website can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2KBa14U.
Town Comptroller Joseph Ludwig said there were at least 16 other town employees — ranging from management to blue-collar and white-collar personnel — who received higher pay than listed in the 2019 budget documents. Ludwig did not respond to a request for a list of the 16 other employees.
The Carpenter administration has previously issued raises to senior staff after the year's budget was approved. Several senior staff members, including Ludwig, had their salaries raised two months after the 2016 budget was approved — some by as much as a 45% increase — in what Carpenter then called a measure to retain staff. "If you don't compensate people properly, they're gonna go," she told Newsday in 2016.
Ludwig said the town budget does not show Krut's updated current salary because "when it comes to the budget amendment, we don't do them the minute that salary change occurs."
He added that the salary raises are funded even if the budget document has not been updated. "It will be covered, we have the money to do it. We just haven't made that adjustment yet," he said. "It kind of depends on when it's needed to get moved."
Carpenter did not respond to a request for comment about the disparity in Krut's listed and actual 2019 salaries. In a previous interview Friday, she said that Krut is still earning less than her peers in other towns, and repeated the same point she made in 2016 to Newsday that competitive wages are necessary to hire and retain staff.
"Just over the past couple of years, I have been trying to get the salaries in line with what they are in other municipalities — chief of staff in particular, whose duties are incredible, and equivalent to any of the commissioners," Carpenter said in a phone interview.
When asked why Carpenter issues raises after the yearly budget is approved, Ludwig said, "It just depends on as things pop up and what the supervisor feels we can afford and can't afford. The downside of putting everything into a budget, when you do the budget in November, is you still don't know necessarily what the balance of the year is going to do."
To find information about Krut's updated salary and other raises, "you would have to come in and specifically ask for that paperwork," Ludwig said. "And that's not just us, that's every municipality on Long Island. Nobody puts a detailed ... final general ledger account for public consumption out on a website or anything like that. The public record, anybody can come and look at it but it's not put out there."
Carpenter's annual salary will increase 2%, from $106,337 to $108,464. The town council members will make $81,692, a 2% increase from their current salaries of $80,090.
Other personnel will receive contractual step raises and general wage increases for some union workers, Ludwig said.
Revenue was expected to increase from sources such as Long Island MacArthur Airport passenger fees and the hatchery program in the Great South Bay, which the town will now run without a middleman.
The budget was unanimously approved 5-0 by the town board at a Nov. 7 budget hearing.