County residents say ‘no’ to proposed legislature pay increase

In Niagara County

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By Joseph Kissel

Other than Town of Lockport Supervisor Mark Crocker, all the speakers at Tuesday’s public hearing on the county’s proposed budget shot down the idea of raises for legislators.

Mr. Crocker and legislators in favor of the 28 percent raise said it was time after 18 years of flat wages.

Residents, however, pointed out the part-time legislators receive full health care and pensions, and those costs have skyrocketed over the years.

Some suggested 3 percent raises more in line with private enterprise averages across the country. Some suggested making the positions volunteer since the health care is worth it alone.

Newfane resident Edwina Luksch and others said Niagara County has some of the worst statistics in New York State regarding business and development, and Niagara County has taxes higher than 75 similar municipalities in New York State.

Residents mentioned some of the many patronage jobs that still exist at the county, as well as employees that make well over $100,000.

Salaries would go from $15,075 to $19,075 for members; $18,075 to $22,075 for the chairman of the legislature; and from $15,575 to $19,575 for the minority and majority leaders.

“The county should hang its head in shame,” Ms. Luksch said.

“Our residents are not thriving and I don’t see where you are doing a fantastic job,” said Kevin Martinelli.

Meeting only once a month, the legislature is credited 30 hours a week toward their pensions.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a large portion of the meeting consisted of the Democrats caucusing behind closed doors in a non-public gathering while the Republicans shot the breeze on the legislative floor.

“It’s a pretty sweet gig,” Ms. Luksch said.

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