Cost Of Government

MAYVILLE – Recommendations will soon be made regarding the salaries of elected officials in Chautauqua County.

As per the county charter, a citizen’s review committee is charged with making recommendations regarding salaries of elected officials. The committee meets prior to November elections to review the salaries of similar elected officials in other counties throughout the state, in order to compare them to those in Chautauqua County.

April’s meeting marked the first of the year for the Salary Review Committee, which Jay Gould, legislative chairman, anticipates will meet two more times before handing in recommendations. As he is a member of the legislature, which is a paid county position, Gould is not a member of the committee.

“(The elected officials) don’t really work for anybody,” Gould explained. “They are elected by the public. So, to change their salary structure we have to have a meeting.”

The legislative majority and minority leaders submit to the chairman a list of recommended people from throughout the county to serve on the committee. Gould said he then asked the people who were recommended to serve.

Serving on the Salary Review Committee are Mark Deas, financial analyst for the legislature; Stephen Keefe, village of Fredonia mayor; Ellen Ditonto, director of sales for DFT Communications; Larry Anderson, Bemus Point resident; Lance Spicer, former legislator; Al Henderson, town of Ellicott resident; and Fred Larson, an attorney from Jamestown.

Keefe was immediately named chairman of the committee. The committee then spent approximately 45 minutes looking over documents that had been prepared by Daes, which provided information on elected officials from other counties, their populations, cost of living and other pertinent information.

Spicer commented during the meeting that the piece of information he finds most helpful in comparing salaries is the population of other counties. Anderson and Keefe both agreed that the cost of living in surrounding counties is the piece of information they find most helpful in determining what they feel should be the salaries of elected officials in Chautauqua County.

“We’re not here to evaluate whether the current county executive is doing a great job, or a fair job or a poor job, or whether the current county clerk is doing a great job, or a fair job or a poor job,” Larson said. “We’re talking about a position, and who holds these offices in the years to come, if the legislature takes our recommendations, it’s possible what we do will set the pay for 10 years.”

The last time a Salary Review Committee was in place, Gould said it made 18 recommendations for salary changes. The recommendations were put into a resolution before the legislature. However, none of the 18 recommendations were put into effect.

The next Salary Review Committee meeting will be held May 15 at 6 p.m. in the Gerace Office Building in Mayville. Gould anticipated having the committee’s recommendations in resolution form by Aug. 1.