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OpinionEditorial

Don’t keep taxpayers in the dark about pay hikes

Babylon Village Hall in a 2011 photo.

Babylon Village Hall in a 2011 photo. Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Babylon Village has 23 full-time nonunion employees, and last summer they all got raises. Good for them.

But village officials never budgeted for the salary hikes and did not disclose them to the public until late last month, after a Newsday reporter started making inquiries. Bad on them.

Granting salary hikes to its workers is between Babylon and its staff — and its taxpayers. And that’s where the trouble is. The public never knew about the raises, which totaled more than $190,000 in one year.

Similarly, officials in Munsey Park created a new position of village administrator and filled it with the mayor’s brother-in-law. Good for Daniel Breen. But bad on Munsey Park’s trustees, who did not make public the two resolutions or hold a public hearing, and did not disclose Breen’s experience or work history, a violation of state law.

Babylon Mayor Ralph Scordino said his village’s hikes were intended to make salaries more competitive. Fine. He said wages for nonunion workers typically are raised when their union counterparts see pay hikes. No problem there, either. But he also told Newsday that Babylon as a matter of tradition does not publicly vote on nonunion raises when they occur outside of the budget process. That’s a violation of state law, which requires a village board to approve by resolution any change in appropriations. And Scordino’s explanation didn’t square with the one provided by a village attorney, who told Newsday the failure to mention the nonunion increases in the union-raise resolution was an oversight.

Taxpayers are often kept in the dark. As these two villages make clear: Anything less than fully open government is unacceptable.

— The editorial board

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