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November 4, 2011

 

Treasurer salary change moves forward

Legislature to again vote on measure to cut the salary in half for the elected position

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

Legislators at the Cortland County Personnel Committee Thursday once again considered reducing the county treasurer’s salary, this time agreeing to the measure after repeated attempts failed in past months at Legislature meetings.
The Legislature last week had tabled the measure, seeking more information on how the change would affect other employees within the management compensation plan.
But the committee Thursday was ready to endorse the plan to lower the treasurer’s salary from the range of $57,599 to $70,078 to $32,617 to $39,684.
Lawmakers must move on the proposal to change the salary before Jan. 1; that is when a new treasurer will be seated and the salary cannot be changed midterm.
The four committee members present voted in favor of the change, with Legislators Susan Briggs (R-Cortlandville), Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) and Tom Hartnett (D-4th Ward) absent.
Personnel Committee Chair Tony Pace (D-7th Ward) said legislators could safely proceed with making the change after clarifying that doing so would not also impact other employees in the management compensation plan.
The committee also unanimously endorsed a local law that clarifies the management compensation plan for county employees.
The law ensures that the county complies with state County Law regarding changes to salary and benefits of elected or appointed officials.
County Attorney Ed Purser said that section of law dictates that changes must be done by enacting a resolution establishing step increases through longevity.
Purser said the local law has nothing to do with the treasurer’s salary change, which could have proceeded regardless. Purser has pushed for the law to be enacted for awhile, he said.
The timing was coincidental, said Purser, because he encouraged legislators to enact the law since they were reviewing the management compensation plan during discussions of changing the treasurer’s salary.
“To avoid any problem with interpretation we are going to pass a local law to cover anything that doesn’t cover longevity, just to be protected and be in compliance with Section 201 of County Law,” Purser said.
Pace said he is now comfortable the treasurer’s salary can be changed without any concern that the Legislature is acting improperly.
“We wanted to make sure everything was right and anything that may have been not done properly in the past was straightened out,” Pace said.
Officials are considering lowering the treasurer salary since the accounting functions have been removed from the Treasurer’s Department, with financial operations transferred to the county administrator in July.
Republican Cindy Monroe is the sole candidate to replace Patrick O’Mara, who is not running for re-election.
Pace said lowering the salary is justified.
“Because the duties have drastically changed there with 17 responsibilities moved from the Treasurer’s Office to the county administrator and six responsibilities left, it was appropriate to take a look at the grade and the salary to make sure they are in line with other department heads,” Pace said.

 

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