OC Legislature Votes Against Raises for Elected Officials
GOSHEN—County legislators voted almost unanimously on Aug. 4 to keep their own pay the same for four years starting in 2018, as well as the county executive’s and the county clerk’s, while approving in a separate resolution an increase in the pay cap for county managers.
Rank-and-file legislators make $29,811, committee chairs $33,124, majority and minority leaders $36,436, the legislature chairman $49,684, the county executive $182,177, and the county clerk $107,650. Those salaries are now fixed through 2021.
Legislator Michael Amo was the only one who voted against the entire bundle of zero percent raises, saying he thought it was being done out of fear of what constituents would think, and that with inflation, legislators would actually be taking a pay cut. In 2013, legislators voted to do away with their collective $12,000 travel stipend and contribute 12 percent to their health care costs in addition to taking a pay freeze through 2017.
“If someone wants to run for this office and needs to have additional money to cover their inflationary cost, their travel or other expenses, this is going to be a deterrent,” Amo said. “Why not stay at the local level where they can walk to the meetings or whatever, and get all the health benefits and everything else they want?”
This might entice elected officials to make money in other ways, he said, implying this could be an ethical issue for the county.
In the same session, legislators approved by a vote of 12 to nine a 3 percent increase in the cap for county managers for 2016–2017.
This would increase the highest of the 29 salary grades from $152,401 in 2015 to $156,974 in 2016 and $161,683 in 2017.
The resolution was added at the last minute on consent, and most of the pushback stemmed from legislators not having time to discuss it further in committee after it was voted down at the last full legislature meeting. Consent requires a majority of legislators to vote for an item to be added to the agenda the day of the meeting without it going through committee first.
“I think we reserve consent for special situations. This is not one of those special situations,” said county Minority Leader Matthew Turnbull. “I don’t see what the rush is.”
Legislature Chairman Stephen Brescia said he brought it back by consent because he thought it had been fully discussed, and there were no suggestions for amendments when it was discussed in committee in June. He said it could also be amended in committee, “so I see no reason to delay this,” he said.
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