With the planned Dec. 27 introduction of a local law, the salaries of four elected county officials are scheduled to go up by between 13 percent and 22 percent over the positions’ 2017 salaries.
If the law is approved by the Legislature, the following salaries will increase:
• County Executive Anthony Picente Jr.: $114,375 to $140,000.
• County Comptroller Joseph Timpano: $73,120 to $87,000.
• County Clerk Sandra DePerno: $69,636 to $85,000.
• Sheriff Robert Maciol: $101,492 to $115,000.
But the pay rates as they stand in the adopted 2018 budget are only slightly higher than the 2017 salaries for those positions.
The salaries currently are tied to the consumer pricing index escalator formula, which decides whether compensation will go up or down, Picente said.
“The state sets a consumer price index of what the overall growth in goods and services,” he said. “The way the formula was set up, when they created this back in the '90s, was that they would base any increase of the four electeds on the consumer price index, up to but not to exceed 3 percent. If the CPI went above three, it was capped at three. But if the consumer price index for that year was one or two, that’s all it would get each year. If the consumer price index had dropped from the previous year, then the salaries would go down.”
Increases were explored and recommended by a citizen review committee and endorsed by a group of Oneida County Legislators Nov. 12 before the local law was formulated.
The five-member Citizens Review Committee on Elected Officials Compensation was made up of Chairman Robert Comis, Dean Dzwonkas, Mitchell Ford, Utica College President Laura Casamento and Hans Arnold.
The committee from the Legislature was made up of Majority Leader George E. Joseph, R-10; Minority Leader Philip M. Sacco, D-9; James M. D’Onofrio, R-15; Rose Ann Convertino, D-22; William R. Hendricks, D-20; Emil R. Paparella, R-23; and Les Porter, R-6.
The recommendations from the citizen committee are right on, Sacco said.
“What was proposed for them was fair,” he said. “I think what’s important to look at is the length of time that went by since the last time raises were granted; that was quite a long time.”
Joseph said this is the third time he’s been on this committee, which shows it’s not a new discussion. The salaries for these positions aren’t comparable to other positions with similar amounts of power, such as school superintendents, so it’s time for them to be adjusted, he said.
“We don’t do it on a regular basis — like every five years — so what happens is some of these things stagnate and there’s a point where they have to be brought up to standard,” Joseph said. “I think that’s what the focus was here.”
If approved, the combined pay increase of $68,377 will come from the salary contingency account in the 2018 budget, which was amended during the budget process. That means the budget will not change if the law is adopted.
The citizens review committee recommended salary increases for the 23 legislators from $8,368 to $16,000 on Sept. 26, after the pay had been the same since 1994. That increase was included in the 2018 proposed budget.
Picente said because the increase for the four elected officials is being talked about midterm, it had to go before the legislative panel, as well. It was not required to go before the citizens review committee, but that was added to the process for extra oversight, he said.
In order for the salaries for those positions to be changed, it is required to be made into a local law and approved by the full board before going into effect.
This wasn’t the first time raises were discussed for the legislators as well as the four elected positions. In 2016, the legislative panel reviewed and recommended increases for both, but the measure was removed from the 2017 budget before it was adopted.
Picente said he didn’t bring it back up to the board this year because the committee hadn’t met by the time he had the budget put together.
Contact reporter Samantha Madison at 315-792-5015 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Madison).