MAYVILLE - The Audit and Control Committee unanimously shut down any idea of salary increases for elected county employees.
The committee met this week to discuss four local laws establishing the salary for county legislators, executive, clerk and sheriff. Unlike the Administrative Services Committee, which heard the local laws Monday and voted down salary levels to the legislature and sheriff while making recommendations for changes to the county executive and clerk salaries, the Audit and Control Committee unanimously voted down each local law.
The Salary Review Committee recommended that, as of Jan. 1, 2014, base salary for legislators increase from $9,000 to $12,000 per year. It also recommended the chairman of the legislature receive an additional $8,000; majority and minority leaders an additional $1,000; assistant majority and minority leaders an additional $500; each committee chairman an additional $1,000; and each ranking member of committees an additional $250.
For the county executive position, the committee recommended an annual salary of $109,480, effective Jan. 1, 2014. According to seethroughny.net, County Executive Greg Edwards received a salary of $85,000 in 2012.
The committee recommended that the county clerk position salary be $68,264, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Sandy Sopak, current county clerk, received a salary of $53,640 in 2011, according to seethroughny.net.
The committee also recommended an increase for the position of county sheriff. In 2011, Sheriff Joseph Gerace received a salary of $83,740, according to seethroughny.net. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the Salary Review Committee recommended a salary of $87,450.
"Personally speaking, I've made no secret about this, I can't in good conscience support any pay raise for elected officials in Chautauqua County," said committee Chairman John Runkle, R-Stockton.
George Borrello, R-Irving, agreed with Runkle, stating that he does not know anyone who is a legislator because of the salary.
"I try to look at things from a business perspective," Borrello said. "When it comes to something like the county executive, the chief executive officer of a $265 million budget, that's a big responsibility, and you want qualified people to, quote-unquote, apply for the job."
David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, also spoke up to express his opinion during the committee meeting.
"This whole system where you look at it every five years and give somebody a raise that hasn't even been in office before, that doesn't even know what the job totally entails, and they're going to get a 20 percent raise, I think is not very wise," Himelein said. "Maybe we should restructure how we go about paying our elected officials, and have it on a cost-of-living basis, or some other basis, rather than waiting every five years and having to give great big salary increases."
The full legislature will review the local laws Wednesday at its regular meeting. During this time, legislators have the ability to recommend changes to the local laws, which will then need to wait 30 days before the changes may be voted upon.