Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that he would voluntarily return $40,000 in salary to taxpayers over the next four years. The county executive announced that he would take a pay cut of $10,000 in 2020 and will freeze his salary at that level over the next four years. The additional $40,000 in salary giveback will bring the total amount of salary and benefits that the county executive has voluntarily returned to taxpayers by the end of his term to approximately $340,000.
“While the county’s finances have improved significantly, we still have more work to do, which is why I will continue to lead by example by cutting my pay by $10,000 a year over the next four years,” said Bellone.
Upon taking office in 2012, Bellone cut his pay to $187,000, below what the prior county executive earned and froze his pay at that lower level for the next eight years. In addition, in that first year he volunteered to become the first employee in county history to pay into his own health care.
In his memo to the budget office, Bellone cited the County fiscal crisis when he entered office as the main reason for cutting his pay and freezing it for eight years. In 2012 an independent task force of financial experts in the region determined that Suffolk County faced an accumulated deficit of $530 million by the end of 2013. Over the past eight years the county has eliminated the deficit, stabilized the county’s bond rating and produced two consecutive operating surpluses.
Bellone’s salary of $222,124 will make him the highest-paid countywide elected official for the first time in his eight years as county executive. The county executive will earn an additional $35,124 in 2020, $10,000 below his legal salary.