County Legislators Discuss Pay Raises For Elected Officials

Chautauqua County officials have started discussing raising the salary of elected officials.

During the Administrative Services Committee meeting, Chairman Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, said he and Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon, R-Ellery, discussed reviewing elected officials’ salaries, to see where the county is at, and to perhaps form a Salary Review Commission.

Human Resources Director Deborah Makowski noted that Chautauqua County has been “lagging other counties” when it comes to pay for some elected officials.

Makowski said it’s been about 10 years since the last time a Salary Review Commission was in place, “with some elected officials not receiving a raise since 2001.” She did not specify which elected officials. “Based on this, I am recommending that a Salary Review Committee is formed, just to review statewide data and take a look at all salaries for all elected officials,” she said.

Legislator Lisa Vanstrom, R-West Ellicott, said she supports forming a commission. “It’s a worthy endeavor. I’m so tired of entities claiming that us, our body, only has 12 meetings year. If they keep repeating the same lie, I’m going to seriously start writing some hot letters, because I start out with 40 meetings a year — and that’s part-time,” she said.

Legislator John Davis, R-Frewsburg, expressed his support as well. “I think that, if it has been for some people, since 2001 since there’s been an increase, and even if it’s been 10 years and we’re lagging behind other counties, we need to take a hard look at that, to make sure that what we’re doing is in line,” he said.

Legislator Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, agreed with Vanstrom that elected leaders take a lot of criticism. “To be subjected to what you’re subjected to as an elected official, the salary definitely doesn’t line up with that,” he said.

Scudder added that he is “not suggesting we get a raise” but thinks a commission would be worthwhile.

Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon said even if the county legislature votes to increase the pay for legislators, any raise would not take effect until after the next election. “It gives the voters an opportunity to go through an election cycle understanding that after that election, who ever they choose would get a salary increase,” he said.

The Administrative Services Committee did not vote Monday on forming a commission, but generally agreed its something they would support.

On Thursday, the legislature’s Audit and Control Committee officially passed a resolution to establish the Salary Review Commission. According to the resolution, the commission would be bi-partisan, consisting of seven citizens to be appointed by the County Legislature.

The full legislature is expected to vote on final approval at its meeting on Wednesday.


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