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N. Hempstead OKs raises for elected officials

The North Hempstead Town Board voted along party lines Tuesday night to raise the salaries of elected officials over the protests of about a dozen residents and the board's two Republican members, who argued that the idea should instead be taken up next month when a new supervisor is in office.

Councilmember Anna Kaplan introduced an amendment to the proposal, reducing the pay hike for town council members to $49,000 and wiping out a proposed $5,000 increase for the town supervisor.

That amendment, and the vote on the proposal, both passed 4-2, with council members Dina De Giorgio and Angelo Ferrara, both Republicans, voting against them.

The vote came after more than two hours of public comment in which most speakers beseeched the board to put off the vote or reject the proposal, first introduced by interim Supervisor John Riordan last month.

Riordan opened the public hearing by explaining his reasoning for introducing the measure, noting that salaries have been stagnant for nine years and had fallen behind those of comparable towns, such as Huntington and Hempstead. The Hempstead board Tuesday voted for increases for its own elected officials.

Riordan said the town officers' salaries should have kept up with the cost of living.

He also read a letter that he said he received from Supervisor-elect Judi Bosworth, in which she asked that the proposal be amended to not include a raise for the supervisor's position. The original proposal included a $5,000 increase for the supervisor.

Before the vote, several residents expressed concern.

"I have a very hard time understanding the four-month interim unelected supervisor suddenly deciding, 'I'm going to make right for nine years,' " said Steven Walk of Great Neck.

Albert Khafif of Westbury, said it would be better for the proposal to be considered next year, after Bosworth takes office. "The timing is truly suspect and we should all be leery of that," Khafif said.

Some residents spoke in favor of the idea, arguing that the town council members work hard and deserve raises. "I think it's well deserved," said Sue Auriemma of Manhasset.

Under the new salary schedule, which takes effect in January, town board members, who serve part-time, would be paid $49,000 a year, up $9,000, or 22.5 percent. The receiver of taxes will get 27.8 percent more, to $115,000 a year, while the town clerk will earn $105,000 or 25 percent more annually.

The clerk also receives $10,000 a year for acting as the town's registrar of vital statistics. That amount will not change.

The money for the raises, which totals $140,000, will come out of the town's contingency fund. Money for raises was not included in the town's 2014 budget.

CORRECTION: The vote totals were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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