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Suffolk CC vote on president's raise draws county ire

Suffolk Legislature Presiding Officer William Lindsay has asked Suffolk County Community College trustees to put off a vote today on a raise for a $200,000-a-year interim president, George Gatta, who will soon return to his old job as executive vice president.

Lindsay made the request in a letter Tuesday to board president Ernesto Mattace, saying the college failed to comply with its year-old agreement with the county, requiring that lawmakers get "full copies of all employment contracts" for top administrators a week before the board votes. The proposed resolution calls for Gatta to get a raise of $4,620 and a one-year extension on last year's four-year contract.

The board recently voted to hire Shaun McKay as the new president for $230,000 a year. The selection requires approval by the State University Board of Trustees, which will vote on March 24.

In his letter, Lindsay said he hoped the board would "want to continue the transparency so far developed by the college and county."

Responding to the letter, Mattace said he met with Lindsay. He said he told Lindsay that the raise for Gatta is "the lowest we could give," and he will not delay the vote. "It's all straightened out. Everything's resolved," he said.

But Lindsay said no copy of the contract was provided and all Mattace told him is "it won't happen again."

Gatta came under intense fire last year when trustees gave him a $36,500-a-year raise for temporarily taking the top post under a four-year agreement. His old job paid paid him $163,500 a year.

Trustees will vote on Gatta's raise two days after he met with union officials to ask for permanent concessions because the college next year faces a deficit of $4 million to $6 million in the budget, which includes $80,000 in management raises, sources said. The faculty union is set to get a 3 percent raise next year.

County Executive Steve Levy said the trustees are "no longer accountable" to taxpayers."This is precisely why elected officials should not have been removed from the decision-making process," Levy said."

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