A group of Town of Hempstead residents is organizing a petition drive in the hope of repealing recent pay raises for Town Supervisor Kate Murray, a Republican from Levittown, Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, a Republican from Bellmore, and Town Board trustees.
The volunteer political organization, calling itself Roll Back the Raises, is opposing town pay raises for the term that began Jan. 1. The raises causing the group's ire include those for town supervisor, from $140,000 to $150,000; for clerk, from $95,500 to $106,500; and for board members, from $61,500 to $66,000.
Robert Young, a chief organizer of Roll Back the Raises, one-time Town Board candidate and Democratic Party committeeman, said the group is seeking to collect 25,000 signatures calling for a referendum to be put on the ballot in November that would allow voters to decide if town officials should be given their raises. If the raises were voted down, it is unclear what would become of the officials' pay that they had already received, said Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky, a town spokeswoman.
Derek Donnelly a spokesman for Roll Back the Raises and Democratic Party campaign coordinator, said Section 24 of the New York State Municipal Home Rule Law allows a petition for referendum any time that elected officials award themselves pay raises.
Young said, "Our elected officials should be cutting taxes and preventing unnecessary future tax increases that force people out their homes." While a number of Roll Back the Raises' organizers are Democrats, Young said it is a bipartisan effort. And, while the town government is Republican-controlled, Young noted that one board member, Dorothy Goosby, is a Democrat, from the 1st District.
Trenkle-Pokalsky said Town of Hempstead government "reduced spending 3 percent in the 2010 budget and is actually collecting $1 million less in taxes. To suggest that taxpayers are suffering because of this is not accurate, and the suggestion that this government is not frugal is erroneous."
Roll Back the Raises will collect signatures until Jan. 26, and plans to present the petition to the town before Jan. 29.
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