It has been 18 years since four of Erie County’s top elected officials received a pay hike. A proposal by the Citizens Salary Review Commission says now is the time. At a public hearing Thursday evening, residents got the opportunity to share their views on the proposal.
In the county legislative chamber, three out of four speakers showed their support of raises for the County Executive, Comptroller, Sheriff, and Clerk.
One of them used to hold one of those positions: retired Erie County Sheriff Thomas Higgins. It has been almost 17 years since he held office and Higgins says he is amazed that in that time there’s been no salary change. Hhe reminded the legislature that it’s their responsibility to make adjustments for county employees, and says it’s really inevitable.
“I’ve heard this is not the time. Well, God knows, when is the time? How long will we wait to make adjustments? If you can’t do it at the recommendation like the last two commissions, then do it in increments. But somehow, it has to be done. Eventually, somebody’s going to have to bite the bullet," said Higgins.
On the other side of the debate was current County Comptroller Stephan Mychajliw. Speaking for himself and his office, Mychajliw stated that he could not, with clear conscience, accept a raise. He says when small businesses are struggling, but doing more with less in the private sector, county government should do the same.
The legislature votes on the proposal on November 6 and Mychajliw says if he is given a raise – which by law he must take – he will donate the difference to charity.