COUNTY: Getting selective with comparisons
When did Chautauqua County government start comparing itself with other locations across New York state? During the County Legislature meeting in August, lawmakers approved higher pay adjustments for two sets of employees — attorneys and some selected clerical staff.
Attorney wage ranges were based on need, according to three representatives. Public Defender Nathan Barone, District Attorney Jason Schmidt and County Attorney Patrick Slagle all said they have a hard time recruiting and retaining attorneys for their perspective departments, which is why they requested the larger pay ranges.
Increases for the clerk of the legislature and the secretary to the legislature are much more questionable. Doing constituents no favors, Human Resource Director Debbie Makowski said her department did research and found the county is not competitive in either position compared to other counties across the state.
If Chautauqua County, where the cost of living is much less than most of upstate, is going to start making these correlations, than why are they not looking at some other indicting numbers. Consider this: with a population of 126,000 residents, our county government employs 1,337 individuals.
By comparison, that’s out of whack. The county human resources director did not do that breakdown, so we will.
Schenectady County, near Albany, has a population of more than 158,000 residents. Its county government employs, according to seethroughny.net, 1,333 — four less than a county of 32,000 fewer residents.
On the smaller side, Oswego County, north of Syracuse, has a population of 118,287. Its county employment rolls are 1,171– 166 fewer than this county.
Conclusion: our county is overstaffed — especially when you compare this one to those close to us in population.
You won’t hear that from Makowski or the legislators. That’s because — through those most recent pay increases — they are not looking out for taxpayers who happen to live in one of the poorest counties in the state.