By TIMOTHY HOYER
The pay of the county executive has to be some amount. The trick is to reason out how much amount that should be.
First, however, must be the reasons for how much the county executive is to be paid. The Salary Review Commission gave two reasons for its recommendation to increase the county executive's pay from $85,000 to $109,480. The first was comparing Chautauqua County's executive pay to that of six other counties that have a county executive. The second was that there has been no raise in 11 years so give them a raise based on the cost of living index increases for those ten years.
But there are better reasons to consider for how much a county executive is paid, mostly the same reasons for why any person is paid for the work they do.
Probably the biggest reason a person is paid for their labor is so that person can afford a decent place to live, healthy food to eat, to pay for the cost of utilities, transportation, to support a family, to pay for health care, and education. However, this reason is not followed by most employers.
One local employer said that he was not responsible for his employees having enough money to pay for their necessities, which is rather ridiculous. Where else is an employee to get the money to pay for food if their employer does not pay them enough? Some companies have that attitude, and so the taxpayers must pay a bit over $5,000 per employee in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other public support funds.
To correct that problem of businesses not paying employees enough - half the jobs in America pay $34,000 or less, perhaps we should pay the county executive the median wage in the county, so that half the people make more than the county executive and half make less. According to the U.S. Census, the median household income from 2007 to 2011 was $42,432. According to the Chautauqua County Community Health Assessment 2010-13, median earnings for workers in 2007 was $24,040; the median earnings for male full-time, year-round worker was $40,434; and the median earnings for female full-time, year-round workers was $28,313. Thus, a recommended salary for the county executive could be $40,434 if male, or $28,313 if female. (Just to point out the wrong of no equal pay for equal work.)
Or we could pay the county executive minimum wage - about $15,000 a year. That way the county executive could realize what the people in the county are dealing with and work to change the wages of the people in the county so that everyone would have better health and education. We could imagine the county executive saying, "This pay is terrible. Somebody ought to do something about it!"
Her husband would reply, "You're the county executive. You can do something about it." Then she would say, "Damn right I'm going to do something!"
If a county executive's salary is $109,000 a year, the executive would have no way to know what the needs of the people of the county are like. When a person has lots of money, they are in a different class of citizens, and the way we all admire the rich, the needs of the rich would get first place (as they are in Congress). Let the county executive's job be a working-class job, so the executive is not above the rest of us, but with us and for us.
Since the county executive's salary is presently more than twice the median household income, I see no reason to give the county executive a raise.
Timothy Hoyer, a Jamestown resident, is a county legislator.