Plan to ease Suffolk budget deficit could include pay freeze

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is proposing a pay freeze as part of a plan to ease the county's $163 million deficit.
The executive announced a new Financial Accountability Plan that he says will save taxpayers about $12 million.
It includes an $8.5 million embargo on department spending as well a one-year "step" freeze or pay freeze for exempt employees making $75,000 or more. It also increases the number of steps it takes to reach top pay.
"We're going to be re-aligning the steps so that we're extending them to 12 years instead of 10, so that's significant," says Bellone. 
Bellone says the plan will also require all exempt employees to pay 15 percent into health care starting Jan. 1. He says he believes it's a good next step in balancing the budget. 
"The status quo can no longer exist," says Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory. "There are services that we provide now that we won't be able to provide in the future."
Gregory says he can't name those services yet, but he says lawmakers are in the process of forming a committee that will determine what county programs and services will face layoffs and funding cuts. 
"There's a report that will be generated looking to see if they're meeting their objectives and goals of their contracts and if they're not, we'll either have to defund them or reduce their funding or shift their funding," says Gregory.
News 12 reached out to Suffolk union and Republican leaders for comment, but has not yet heard back.