Suozzi's pay hike omission fuels backlash

Responding to the recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi proposed a large salary increase for countywide elected officials in his 2008 spending plan this week. On Wednesday,

News 12 Staff

Oct 18, 2007, 2:38 AM

Updated 6,122 days ago

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Responding to the recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi proposed a large salary increase for countywide elected officials in his 2008 spending plan this week. On Wednesday, his methods were questioned.
Suozzi did not mention a proposed 60 percent pay hike for himself and others during his news conference Monday, nor did he include the information in the summary budget book distributed to lawmakers and the media.
Minority Leader Peter Schmitt (R-Seaford), who previously expressed openness to salary increases, took exception to the omission.
"You don't try and sneak it in the middle of the night without any public scrutiny or without any public debate or public discussion," Schmitt said. "He should know better."
Earlier in the summer, a blue-ribbon panel concluded Nassau officials deserve a pay increase commensurate with that of others in the region. County lawmakers have not received a raise since the Legislature's inception in 1996.
The panel recommended Suozzi's salary be increased from $109,000 to $174,000 a year and legislators' part-time salary be increased from $39,500 to $70,000. As it is an election year, legislators declined the pay hike.
While Suozzi declined comment for this story, Deputy County Executive Thomas Stokes said pay details are never included in the budget summaries. Stokes added that approximately 2,600 county employees, most of whom are in law enforcement, make more money than the executive.
Public reaction was mixed.
Jeff Schuckman of Bethpage said the raise was "unreasonable" and "uncalled for." Farmingdale resident Loretta Citrano agreed, saying, "I think a better performance merits that kind of a salary."
Meanwhile, Plainview's Mike Polansky defended Suozzi using an argument the executive has used in the past. "You don't attract top people unless you pay them properly," Polansky said.
Related Information:Notax increase in Suozzi's budget proposalPanelrecommends major raises for Nassau lawmakers


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