Erie County legislators are considering recommendations to raise the pay of some top county officials. At a public hearing Thursday night, no one directly attacked the proposals.
The last time the county executive, sheriff, comptroller, county clerk and county legislators received a pay raise was in 1996. Proposals for raises were turned down in 2004 and 2014.
This is one of those complicated pay raise proposals from an independent Citizens Salary Review Commission because it recommends raises for only some of the officials and they would not take effect immediately. Instead, they would take effect after an election.
That means there could be a raise for the county executive in January, but no one else. The commission did not recommend a raise for County Clerk Mickey Kearns, who wants term limits for officeholders.
"The Erie County Legislature, before passing any raises, should include a provision for term limits for all countywide officials," Kearns said. "Our job as elected officials is to put the taxpayers first and not our own personal bank account."
The commission also did not recommend raises for legislators.
With raises, the county executive would make $118,000 a year, the sheriff $89,000 and the comptroller $94,000. County Executive Mark Poloncarz has said he has a lot of people working for him who make more money than him.
Commission member Chris Stone said the recommendations are fair.
"There is a distinct difference between being fiscally conservative and being a curmudgeon, bent on shooting down these recommendations for political expediency," Stone said. "To hold up raises for 23 years reeks of politics and that's why we were empaneled, to take the politics out of it. It is a disservice to this commission for someone to attempt to impugn our reputations simpley because they don't like our conclusions."
Nurse Cheryl Catuzza saids raises should be shared.
"We absolutely do agree with a raise for our public officials. However, we also believe in an equitable distribution of raises," Catuzza said. "We have been fighting for over a year to get our contract resolved and we just want to be recognized for the work that we do, and I'm not sure that anybody here or even anybody in the legislature is aware of what we do every day."
These are nurses who go out into homes to provide care.