Last increase was in 2007; would make $40K annually
By Holly Crocco
Putnam County legislators are expected to approve a 2018 budget that gives each of the nine part-time lawmakers a 14 percent raise, to $40,000 annually.
Legislature Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino (R-Patterson) noted that, aside from a $700 cost-of-living increase in 2016, the pay for legislators has not changed in 10 years.
At a meeting on Oct. 16 of the Legislature’s Personnel Committee, Nacerino said the $5,000 increase is the equivalent of 1 percent annually, if amortized to 2007. She said she believed the raise to be well-deserved, considering the “time that is spent and the amount of dedication to public service” that is required, and given that the position is not a “Monday-through-Friday” job but includes evenings and weekends.
“I certainly have no reservation about advocating for an increase,” she said. “We undermine our own value when we stay with zero, zero, zero… So, this is a fair assessment and it is well-deserved after a decade.”
Putnam legislators the second-highest paid county lawmakers in the region, second only to Westchester, where the base salary is $49,200. (Dutchess legislators make $15,450 annually.)
“It’s a really high increase,” she said.
She also pointed out that part-time elected officials, such as the legislators, are entitled to health benefits.
Nacerino countered that legislative salaries cannot fairly be compared between counties because each job is different. For example, Westchester lawmakers get stipends for serving on various committees and performing other duties, she said, which is not the case in Putnam.
“I stand, with conviction, that this proposed raise is deserving for the job that we do and will continue to do,” she said. “This position has wanted for one raise, in a decade, and I anticipate we will not be revisiting this for another decade.”
A public hearing on the county’s 2018 budget is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Carmel. The Legislature is expected to vote on the budget on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the same location.