An Allegany County, NY, lawmaker made a pitch today for a salary increase for himself and his colleagues as the first run-through of next year’s budget reflected a property tax hike of one-third, which is some 50 percent higher than normal at this time in the budget-making process.
Legislator Gary Barnes of Wellsville introduced the idea at a meeting of the Board of Legislators Budget Committee, saying county lawmakers haven’t had a salary increase for over 22 years and he feels it is time to “take a serious look at what we are paying our legislators …. I think we’re way underpaid.”
County lawmakers receive $8,500 annually, with an additional $8,500 for the chairman and $300 for the Republican majority leader.
County Administrator Carissa Knapp told committee members that the rates would need to be set by a local law and any changes probably would be determined initially by the board while meeting as a Committee of the Whole.
She said the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) takes a salaries survey of county legislator salaries and when it was reviewed last year “you were very much on the low side.”
The proposal met immediate pushback from Legislator Adam Cyr of Bolivar who said that he would like to make his feelings known “and I’m only going to say it one time.
“if this did pass through, I absolutely would not accept a raise in pay. Especially at the beginning of a recession.”
Committee Chair Brooke Harris said the idea might be “the subject for another day,” as he moved on to a lunch break.
The first-time pass through on a 2023 fiscal year budget showed department head requests, less revenues from various sources such as state aid, would create a general fund tax levy of more than $39 million, compared with some $29 million this year.
County Treasurer Terri Ross said this was $3 million to $4 million higher than at the comparable time frame last year. She said the maximum which can be increased to avoid going over the state-established two percent tax cap is $600,000.
Each department head was given five to 10 minutes to present their budgets, with Sheriff Rick Whitney, Public Health Director Tyler Shaw, Social Services Commissioner Edna Kayes, Office for the Aging Director Anita Mattison, Planning Director Kier Dirlam, Public Works Director Tom Windus, Treasurer Ross, Administrator Knapp, and Clerk of the Board Brenda Rigby Riehle being allocated additional.
Due to relatively few questions, most individual sessions ended in less time.
Budget Officer Knapp and Deputy Ross will next proceed to a budget analysis and insertion of additional data to develop a tentative budget.
The exchange in regard to a legislators’ pay raise is available at https://bit.ly/3LMlhcU, starting at approximately 2:12:50 minutes.
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