Comparing salaries

Chautauqua County municipal workers are making less, on average, than both Jamestown and Dunkirk city employees.

A study performed last month by the Empire Center for Public Policy Inc. in Albany calculated county and municipal payrolls across New York and average pay by employer for 2013-2014 and found interesting results.

The city of Jamestown’s 267 “general employees,” 145 of which work for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, earned an average salary of $53,776 – the highest in western New York for municipal employees.

This average salary was $14,663 higher than the average Chautauqua County government worker’s salary, or 37.5 percent, and $6,941 higher than the next highest city, Lockport.

According to the Chautauqua County Health Department, median household income is $41,432 in Chautauqua County, compared with a median family household income of $51,614 and a median, nonfamily household income of $23,398. Empire State Development indicated that the per capita personal income of Chautauqua County residents was $30,543 in 2010, ranking 54th of 62 counties in New York. Overall, 9 percent of households had an income of less than $10,000.

The highest paid Jamestown worker was the general manager of the Board of Public Utilities, who made $145,868. Dunkirk’s highest-paid employee for the year was the police chief, who made $101,571.

An average salary for the city of Dunkirk’s 102 general employees was $41,943, or about 7.2 percent higher than the average Chautauqua County government salary and $11,833 less than the city of Jamestown.

County government average salaries ranked close to nearby counties, ranking fourth out of five. The average salary for the county’s 1,450 employees was $39,113, falling just behind Allegany’s yearly average of $40,625. Cattaraugus County’s 1,171 workers made an average of $38,534.

For the 2014 budget, the total cost of county employee wages and benefits was $82,743,445, while the salaries of the top 25 highest-paid Chautauqua County employees accounted for nearly 1 percent of the county budget in 2013 at a total amount of $2,338,008.

The highest-paid county employee in 2014 was a county psychiatrist, who made $163,753 last year. The district attorney made slightly less, with the physical therapist at the Chautauqua County Home in third place with salary of $101,542.

The average police and fire salary in Dunkirk was $79,841 in 2014 – more than double the average county employee salary.

The average police officer and firefighter salary in Jamestown was $72,415, ranking eighth out of 10 cities in the Empire Center for Public Policy study of western New York. Thirty-one percent of Jamestown’s city employees are police and firefighters.

Average town salaries in Chautauqua County ranged from a high of $36,513 in the town of Hanover, to a low of $15,589 in the town of Clymer and $11,980 in the neighboring Cattaraugus County city of Salamanca.

Town of Chautauqua employees ranked second highest on the list, at $35,251.

Village salaries varied even more, with Westfield’s 42 village employees making an average of $40,236, the fourth highest village salary in the region. Forestville employees made an average of $8,488.

For a complete list of municipal salaries, visit