Legislation to freeze automatic raises for Suffolk County elected officials has taken a step forward.
On Wednesday, the Suffolk County Legislature’s committee on government operations, personnel housing and information technology approved the bill by a 6-0 vote. The Legislature is expected to vote on it next Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the county center in Riverside.
If approved, the pay freeze would be in effect for four years. In addition to legislators, the pay freeze would also affect salaries for the County Executive, District Attorney, County Sheriff, County Clerk and County Comptroller, which are also elected positions.
The Legislature has received automatic pay increases of four percent, or the percent of increase in the Consumer Price Index, which every is less, since 1986, North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said in a press release issued Tuesday.
Mr. Krupski, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Legislator William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia), said county legislators can decline the automatic raise and several have, including himself for three of the last four years.
“Considering the financial situation Suffolk County is facing, it is important the Legislature lead by example in this case,” Mr. Krupski said in the press release. “If we consider asking the workers of the county to forgo pay increases, we should be willing to do the same. If we are asking our constituents to accept cuts to services, we need to make sacrifices as well.”
The county is facing a budget deficit of more than $160 million, according to officials.
Currently, when an elected county official declines a raise, that amount is still collected through taxes, Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) said. If the new legislation is enacted, that amount will no longer be collected, he added.
Legislator Leslie Kennedy (D-Nesconset) said legislators could voluntarily decline to take a pay raise, which she said she’s also done.
“I will vote for this, but I see this as totally non-necessary,” said. “Do we have to order ourselves to do this because we’re so irresponsible?”
President Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said while he voted in favor of the bill, he would rather the legislation be a part of a comprehensive plan.
“I am very much against the tail wagging the dog approach,” he said.
File photo: Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski is in favor of a salary freeze for county elected officials.