Legislators consider raises for three key positions PDF Print E-mail
Written by , Staff Writer   
Sunday, April 01, 2007


A comparison of salaries in counties with populations similar to Clinton County:

  • Some leaders in Clinton County do not support pay increase

    PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators will consider changing the salary structure of three elected positions.
    But in order to make any changes, they will have to rescind or amend a local law that goes back nearly three decades.
    At issue are the salaries of the sheriff, treasurer and clerk positions, which are all elected posts.
    Each of the three, Sheriff David Favro, Treasurer Joseph Giroux and Clerk John Zurlo, receive a base salary of $52,610.
    But Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) brought up the pay scale at Wednesday night's meeting saying it is time for a change.
    He argued namely on the behalf of the sheriff, saying that since the county undertook a $23 million expansion of the jail two years ago, the job conditions of the sheriff have changed and the position may merit more pay.
    "The job description has changed drastically," Butler said.
    "Running the jail is like running a business now with all the revenue it brings in and I don't care if you are an R (Republican) or a D (Democrat) we need to do what's right, and if you do a good job we have to make sure it is acknowledged."
    Favro, a Democrat, was re-elected to a four-year term in an unopposed election last November.
    The salaries for the three elected positions were lumped together in 1979 in order to protect them from politics. That way one of the three elected positions could not get a raise without the other two receiving the same raise.
    Clinton County is the only county in the state that has the salaries of the three linked to each other.
    By comparison, the salary for the sheriff is the lowest among counties with similar populations and budgets.
    The Essex County sheriff makes $63,881 and the Franklin County sheriff makes $56,000. The sheriff in St. Lawrence County makes $64,525 and the sheriff in Warren County makes $84,000.
    The clerks and treasurers in Essex and Franklin counties each make more than their contemporaries in Clinton County.
    Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) said there appears to be no set pattern for how counties establish salaries for the three positions.
    He suggested that County Personnel Director Alan Gibson study the jobs and come up with recommendations.
    But John Gallagher (D-Area 9, City of Plattsburgh) said the legislature should decide whether they first want to change the local law that lumps the three salaries together before doing anything.
    Keith Defayette (D-Area 5, Schuyler Falls) agreed saying it would be pointless to come up with a new salary schedule and then have it go by the wayside if a vote to change the local law failed.
    Jackie Walker (D-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said legislators may not agree to increase any of the salaries.
    "We need to be careful with this because we have some conservative people here," she said.
    "Taxpayers have had enough and this could work against these elected officials and the salaries could go the other way."
    Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh) said he would not vote for a salary increase.
    "We raised the sales tax by one-quarter of a percent and I am committed that that money will go towards lowering the tax levy, not for salaries," he said.
    "This is not the right time to do this even though the sheriff is doing a great job."
    Legislators, who are all up for re-election this year, could not come up with a consensus on how to proceed for about 30 minutes as the discussion continued.
    Finally they agreed to let Gibson study the issue, and come up with some suggestions.



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