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Owens's staff pay rose in last quarter

TIMES WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT
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WASHINGTON — Rep. William L. Owens boosted pay for his congressional staff in the last quarter of 2010, but not as generously as some departing members of Congress.


That is one revelation from an analysis of House staff salaries in 2010 prepared by Legistorm, an online source of information about spending by congressional offices.


Mr. Owens's staff salaries grew by 18.58 percent in the final quarter of last year, ranking him 15th out of the state's 28-member congressional delegation.


Overall, though, Mr. Owens's staff payroll is one of the leanest in the House, said his spokesman, Sean Magers.


He paid staffers $199,167 in the fourth quarter, compared with an average of $166,618 in the first three quarters, the analysis showed.


Also citing Legistorm's findings, Mr. Magers noted that Mr. Owens ranked 27th in New York's delegation for overall payroll in the fourth quarter and 422nd out of 435 House members.


The relatively low payroll in Mr. Owens's office may be owing to relative inexperience on his staff, something fairly common among newly elected members. By the time his predecessor, former Rep. John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, left office, he had staffers who had worked on Capitol Hill for many years and commanded higher salaries.


Mr. McHugh paid staffers $230,759 in the last quarter of 2008, for instance, though the payroll was basically flat compared with prior quarters.


The top two bonus-givers in the New York delegation last year were former Reps. Daniel Maffei, D-Syracuse, whose quarterly payroll nearly doubled, and Michael A. Arcuri, D-Utica, whose payroll increased 68 percent.


The two Republicans in the state's delegation then, Reps. Peter King, R-Long Island, and Chris Lee, R-Clarence, increased their payrolls by 20 percent and 19 percent in the quarter, respectively.


House members agreed this year to trim their office budgets by 5 percent.


In addition, Mr. Owens and some other lawmakers return money to the government as a matter of policy at the end of the fiscal year. Mr. Owens returned 15 percent to 17 percent in fiscal 2009 and plans to give back the same percentage for fiscal 2010 once the accounts are closed for that year, Mr. Magers said.

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