Pay raises: Reality check for committees

No matter what employment you have, you will almost always believe you are not paid what you are worth.

Politicians – and elected officials – are in the same boat. Last year, a Salary Review Committee was set up in Chautauqua County to examine the wages paid to elected officials. As is usually the case in government, the people who made up the panel believed taxpayers were underpaying those serving as county executive, sheriff, county clerk and the legislators.

“As long as we keep going the way we are, it’s going to be hard to get people to fill these positions after a while, in a few more years,” said Legislature Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, last June before the issue went away.

It did not seem to be all that tough last election as there were strong races for executive, clerk and for Legislature districts. This year, there also is a race for sheriff.

Erie County is going through the same motions this year.

Recently the executive there, Mark Poloncarz, also put together a commission to look at salaries of elected officials. Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs reacted best: “When I ran for the Office of Erie County clerk just three years ago, I was fully aware of the salary associated with the office. For me to now advocate or accept a pay raise would be disingenuous to county taxpayers and the voters of Erie County who duly elected me.”

He also added some reality to the conversation. “Too many families are still suffering in a weak local economy as well as the fragile condition of our county finances for a pay raise to be considered at this time.”

Right on.