BREAKING: Allegany County, NY, lawmakers, by an unusually high split vote, have approved new salaries for department heads and non-union personnel which appeared to run as much as $25,000 more and over 25 percent higher for next year.
The votes came late this afternoon at a special meeting of the county Board of Legislators, following an increase of $6,400, to $93.450, for the sheriff’s position, above the $87,050 which originally had been published.
County Legislator Brooke Harris of Alfred, who called for the amendment to the salary scale, said there had been an error in the original list for Undersheriff Scott A. Cicirello, who is unopposed in next week’s election to replace Sheriff Rick Whiney who is retiring.
The vote on the change in the undersheriff’s salary was opposed by Legislator Gary Barnes of Wellsville, with Legislator Dwight (Mike) Healy of Belmont absent from the board meeting.
Barnes also voted against both of the wage packages, along with John Ricci of Cuba and James Rumfelt of Andover.
Three closed door meetings held
Proposed compensation actions during afternoon committee meetings and the special Board session appeared to lead to three closed door meetings of the Board, running a full range from an executive session to discuss labor negotiations, an attorney-client discussion, and a political caucus of the all-Republican lawmakers between the committee and legislators sessions.
The first two public closures, which apparently ran together, came when Ricci, the head of the Board’s Personnel Committee, objected to having no warning of a Memorandum of Agreement between the county and union representing 911 dispatchers at the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office NY which changed work schedules to 12 hours per day, along with new accompanying wage rates.
He said he only learned about particulars of the proposed action when he received his agenda for today’s committee meeting.
Ricci also objected to a proposal to create a new Classification, Compensation and Evaluation Plan for establishing non-union wage rates, saying that although he supports 90 percent of what has been proposed, he feels county legislators are moving too fast in adopting the package, approving a document which only is a draft.
Root says action is long overdue
Legislator Debra Root of Scio said at both the committee and Board meetings that she feels the action is long overdue, having been discussed by different boards in the past.
She also said at the board meeting that it costs more than the annual salary of an individual for recruitment and training to replace someone who leaves and that higher paying county jobs need to be available if young people are going to return to the county.
Legislator Adam Cyr of Bolivar said he was voting for the new salary scales because it will “open the door” for future negotiations with the unions to increase wages for individuals who are in public works and other positions.
The board’s Public Works Committee heard earlier in the afternoon from Public Works Superintendent Thomas Windus that he is having difficulty keeping motor equipment operators in his department because, although liking the work environment, they are leaving for better-paying jobs.
Rumfelt, who also serves as the police chief in Andover, and Barnes didn’t give a reason for their negative votes, but the law enforcement officer said during the public works meeting that his community is having a difficult time recruiting public works personnel because wages which would be competitive with other employers would require tax increases.
First overview provided of compensation plan
County Administrator Carissa Knapp gave an overview to the Board on how the consultant had put together the compensation plan, the first public explanation following prior closed door meetings.
She said the draft document is a guide, based on comparables from other counties and businesses which she, the personnel director, and the deputy county administrator who, Knapp said, has a background in human relations, then examined and refined.
In response to a question, Knapp said the new package has eliminated additional stipends which some officials have been receiving for additional job titles, including herself as deputy county attorney, with all individuals receiving just one wage next year.
No information has been provided in regard to all the positions which were receiving additional stipends, employers used as comparables, or the total additional cost of the wage packages, which Allegany Hope Community News is requesting.
Ricci also questioned why the rating scales for positions hadn’t been included in the study document to enable board members to see how they had been determined. Knapp said this could be included in the final plan which still must be voted on by the entire county legislature. Today’s actions only involved next year’s wages.
Local law subject to permissive referendum
The local law setting salaries for 19 individuals still is subject to a permissive referendum if sufficient taxpayers file a valid petition seeking a public vote.
Livestreams of today’s somewhat lively committee and board discussions are available at approximately 11:10 minutes at https://bit.ly/3U2uH7o and at https://bit.ly/3WtugEK, with the special Board meeting at https://bit.ly/3gV4SaL.
Photo: County Board of Legislators Personnel Committee Chairman John Ricci, left, along with, from left, Legislators Adam Cyr of Bolivar, and Dwight Fanton and Gary Barnes of Wellsville listen to fellow lawmaker Debra Root late this afternoon as she supports new county compensation schedules for non-union personnel. Ricci sought unsuccessfully to defeat the proposal, being joined by Barnes and Legislator James Rumfelt of Andover.
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