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Committees Consider Issue of Legislator Salaries

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Committees Consider Issue of Legislator Salaries

Monday, December 17, 2012
The Tompkins County Legislature will have two committee recommendations to consider when it next month takes up the issue of legislator salaries for the next four-year legislative term.

With three alternate proposals before them, the Legislature's Government Operations Committee has recommended next-term salaries remain at the current $18,700 level, while the budget committee today voted to advance a recommendation that would increase salaries to $20,000 for the 2014-2017 legislative term.

The Legislature acts on increases for the next term before the new term begins and strives to set the salary level early enough so that potential candidates have the information as they consider whether to seek to serve. The Chair of the Legislature receives one-and-a-half times the standard legislator salary.

The Government Operations recommendation last Friday came by a 4-0 vote, with Legislator Peter Stein excused. Today's Budget recommendation was supported by a 3-0 margin, with members Nathan Shinagawa and Kathy Luz Herrera excused, but Legislator Mike Lane (who was among those supporting the 0% increase at Government Operations) made it clear he was only supporting the $20,000 proposal in Budget to advance the matter for purposes of discussion by the full Legislature, and would not support that alternative on the floor of the Legislature.

A third potential option considered, but not recommended by either committee, would raise legislative salaries by 2%, to $19,075, an increase consistent with the level negotiated for County employee contracts in 2013 and 2014.

Budget chair Jim Dennis pointed out today that with the salary increase to $20,000 the County's total salary expense would still be $500 dollars lower than present, since the total number of legislators would decrease from 15 to 14 Legislators in the 2014-2017 term.

The Legislature is scheduled to take up the salary issue at its January 3 meeting.