by Anthony Pucci
On July 3, 2023, the Budget Committee of the Chemung County Legislature passed a resolution introducing Local Law #5 authorizing an increase in salary for an elected official in the County of Chemung.
The elected official is County Executive Christopher Moss. The current salary of Mr. Moss is $152,854. The proposed salary is $163,889 (an increase of 7.22%)
Let’s put this proposed salary in perspective. Westchester County has a population of approximately 1,004,000 as of the 2020 census. Their County Executive received a salary of $160,134 in 2021. Chemung County has a population of approximately 84,000 as of the 2020 census. To be clear, Chemung County’s population is less than 10% of the population of Westchester County. Yet, if the proposed salary is adopted, our County Executive would earn approximately the same salary as the County Executive of Westchester County.
This is not a criticism of Mr. Moss or of his performance as County Executive. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that Westchester is a much larger and wealthier county, and Chemung is a much smaller and poorer county. Shouldn’t the salaries of those two counties reflect those differences?
The Single Rate Salary Review Advisory Committee recommended this increase for Mr. Moss and a similar increase for the Deputy County Executive. The increase for the Executive requires passage of a local law since that is an elected position. The Deputy Executive is appointed, so no local law is required.
This committee refers to “salary compression” as the justification for the proposed increase. In my view, salary or wage compression can be a serious problem in certain situations. For example, if a newly hired individual is given a salary that is higher than a more experienced individual performing a similar job, that more experienced individual might leave. This is not the case with the County Executive.
Do the legislators believe that the County Executive, regardless of who it is, should be the highest paid individual in county government? Given that logic, Governor Kathy Hochul should be the highest paid person in New York State government, yet there are literally hundreds of New York State employees who make more than her $250,000 according to seethroughny.net. It is also true that the President of the United States with a salary of $400,000 is not the highest wage earner in the federal government.
The full legislature will vote on this resolution on July 10, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hazlett Building. Whether you support or oppose this proposed salary increase, make your voice heard by either speaking during the public comment period or by emailing or calling your legislator. Contact information is available at chemungcountyny.gov.
If we want a county government that is responsive to our views on this issue as well as the many other important issues the legislature will decide, we have an obligation to make those views known to our elected officials. This is the hallmark of good government.
Anthony J. Pucci is a resident of the Town of Veteran.
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