Panel to mull pay raises for county executive, sheriff, comptroller and clerk

Published Nov 14, 2017 at 4:00pm

A panel of seven Oneida County legislators will meet Wednesday to examine possible pay raises totaling $68,377 for county executive, sheriff, comptroller and county clerk.

Board Chairman Gerald J. Fiorini, R-7, Rome, announced Monday he’d appointed the bipartisan committee to review the recommendations made by a citizens panel last month. The legislative committee will decide whether higher salaries for the four elected officials should be taken up by the full Board of Legislators.

Not only did the five-member citizens recommend the pay hikes, but it urged they take effect in 2018. Although next year’s budget was passed by the legislators last week, it can be amended to reflect new salaries for the four posts. There’s money set aside in the $407.8 million spending plan to cover unanticipated payroll costs, such as union contracts that are settled during 2018.

The new pay levels proposed by the Citizens Review Committee on Oneida County Elected Officials Compensation are: 

• County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., $140,000, a $25,625 increase, or 22.4 percent, over this year’s $114,375; 

• Sheriff Robert M. Maciol, $115,000, a $13,508 hike, or 13.3 percent, from $101,492;

• Comptroller Joseph J. Timpano, $87,000, a $13,880, or 18.9 percent, from $73,120; and 

• County Clerk Sandra J. DePerno, $85,000, a $15,364 hike, or 22 percent, from $69,636.

Panel members said the recommended amounts were a reflection of the size and responsibilities of the jobs and not the individual officeholders.

The recommended salaries far exceed the cost-of-living adjustments they are scheduled to receive next year under a local law that is based on the Consumer Price Index .For example, Picente’s pay is slated to increase $1,132 under the law compared to $25,625 recommended by the citizens committee.

It was the thinking of the panel that the salaries of the four officials have not kept pace with what their colleagues are being paid around the state. Another factor was the fact that a number of long-serving department heads appointed by the county executive earn more than Picente.

Rationales were provided for the higher salaries for all four positions.

Although the citizens committee took no stand on the annual indexing that now applies to the four positions, it did recommend that the effectiveness of the local law be reviewed. Of special concern to the members is the feature in the local law that allows for year-to-year pay decreases, based on the formula used to determine the yearly adjustments.

In addition, the report recommends that the citizens committee be reconvened in four years to take a fresh look at the salaries for the county’s elected officials. 

Named by Fiorini to the review committee of legislators were: co-chairs Majority Leader George E. Joseph, R-10, Westmoreland, and Minority Leader Philip M. Sacco, D-9, Deerfield; Rose Ann Convertino, D-22, Utica; Chad Davis, D-14, Clinton; James M. D’Onofrio, R-15, New Hartford; Emil R. Paparella, R-23, Utica; and Les Porter, R-6, Remsen. 

The legislative committee is not bound by the citizens committee report. It will meet Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the County Office building in Utica.

Neither Joseph nor Sacco objected to the higher salaries for the four in conversations with this newspaper after the citizens panel released its report. 

It could be difficult for the legislators to deny the four officials higher base salaries because the legislators are getting a big pay hike themselves next year. Their salary is going to $16,000 apiece, up from the current $8,368. However, there is one big difference between them and county executive, sheriff, county comptroller and county clerk; there are no yearly cost-of-living adjustments for lawmakers. The present $8,368 has been the same since 1994.

The new legislator pay — an increase of about 91 percent — was recommended by the same Citizens Review Committee in time for inclusion in the 2018 budget submitted by Picente to the legislators for their review and adoption. The budget passed 22-0, with one member absent, on Nov. 8.