Glen Cove Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck, pictured in 2022, and Republican council...

Glen Cove Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck, pictured in 2022, and Republican council members approved a pay increase for the firm that acts as the city’s attorney. Credit: Marcus Santos

The Glen Cove City Council has approved a 20% pay increase for the firm that acts as the city’s attorney despite concerns that it wasn't budgeted for and eats into the city's reserves.

The contract with Glen Cove-based Chase, Rathkopf & Chase this year will pay $20,000 per month, compared with the firm's $16,667-per-month contracts in 2023 and 2022, according to the resolution adopted 4-3 at the Feb. 13 council meeting. The new contract took effect Feb. 1 and runs through the end of the year.

Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, a Democrat, said the raise, given shortly after the city's $63.5 million budget was passed last fall, is “egregious.” She also voiced displeasure at the raise not being tied to additional work. 

The resolution passed after Glen Cove Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck, a Republican, voted for the measure alongside Republican council members. Silverman and her fellow Democrats, Councilman John Zozzaro and Councilwoman Danielle Fugazy Scagliola, voted against it.

Republican Councilman Kevin Maccarone said the raise is a “well-deserved bump.” The city has not faced major legal issues since the firm was retained as the city's attorney in 2022, he said.

Panzenbeck said the increase would be paid for using the city's $200,000 fund for contingencies, which is controlled by the mayor's office.

Fugazy Scagliola voiced concern over using that funding early into the year and said there are risks in the current budget that could require the city to dip into the money source. She did not specify the risks. 

“I understand the mayor does have contingency and I appreciate that, but I know there’s a lot of people now looking for money through contingency and it’s going to get tighter and tighter, and it’s only February,” said Fugazy Scagliola. 

Chase, Rathkopf & Chase has a separate contract as legal counsel for the city’s planning and zoning boards. Fugazy Scagliola told Newsday the firm does a “significant portion” of the city’s legal work, except for collective bargaining agreements. 

The city is set to negotiate with the Civil Service Employees Association and the Police Benevolent Association this year, Fugazy Scagliola said. It's unclear if outside legal counsel will be used to negotiate those contracts.

Ken Girardin, director of research for the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank, said the raise “is the sort of thing that should get done in a budget.”

“If they were going to cut something from the budget to offset it, that would be more responsible,” Girardin said.

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months