MAYVILLE – Changes are already being recommended to suggested salary levels for elected county officials.
The Administrative Services Committee was the first legislative committee to review and discuss local laws establishing salary levels for county legislators, the county executive, county clerk and sheriff. It unanimously voted down a local law for recommended salary increases for legislators and the sheriff. After discussion, the majority of the committee voted in favor of increasing salaries for the county executive and clerk, however, not at the levels recommended by the Salary Review Committee.
Salary Review Committee Chairman Stephen Keefe, village of Fredonia mayor, explained to the legislative committee that the salary review committee members unanimously vetoed lowering salaries or keeping them the same, choosing to look at the cost-of-living increases over the number of years none of the positions have received a pay increase.
“It’s hard for an elected position, for you to vote for yourself a raise, I understand that,” Keefe said. “You have given up health insurance, you’ve given up laptop computers, you’ve given up expense accounts. There’s a number of things you’ve given up over the years, and your salary has remained the same. It wasn’t based on emotions, it wasn’t based on politics. The only thing that we based it on was, ‘What has life done for the average person over 23 years?'”
Administrative Services Committee Chairman Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, was the first legislator to voice his opinion over the pay increases.
“I feel this is not the time for elected officials to receive salary increases,” he said. “My no votes will reflect how I feel about the four local law changes.”
Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott, also spoke, agreeing that legislators should not receive pay increases. However, he noted some positions have had no pay change in many years.
“There’s not been a change in the salary of county executive or county clerk in 20 years,” Tarbrake said. “I support that change for those people. Let’s move into the 21st Century for those people, let’s get real here. As far as county legislators go, I’m willing to keep those the same.”
After unanimously voting down the pay increase for legislators, the committee discussed the recommended salary level for county executive, which the Salary Review Commission set at $109,480. Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, recommended lowering the salary level to $100,000, which each committee member except Scudder agreed to.
When it came to the position of county clerk, however, Barmore refrained from recommending a salary level, as he will be running for the position. Additionally, Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, chose not to make a recommendation, as she will be running against Barmore.
Tarbrake suggested a salary of $62,000 instead of the recommended $68,264. Again, each committee member except Scudder agreed to the change.
Finally, the committee members unanimously voted down a pay increase for the Chautauqua County Sheriff.
The Salary recommendations will also be reviewed and discussed by the Audit and Control Committee at 8:35 a.m. Thursday, in room 331 of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.