Schenectady County

Schenectady County legislators give selves 35% pay raise

Legislative salaries will jump from $14,093 to $19,000 per year in 2021
The Schenectady County Office Building in downtown Schenectady is pictured.
The Schenectady County Office Building in downtown Schenectady is pictured.

SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady County Legislature approved a nearly $5,000 per-year pay raise for its members at a brief special meeting Thursday evening.

The raise, the first that members of the legislative body have received in 20 years, will take the annual salary from $14,093 to $19,000 per year — a 35 percent increase — effective in 2021, a year from now.

Two other elected officials, County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino and County Clerk Cara Jasenski Ackerley, also received raises, but those raises will take effect for 2020. The local law needed to authorize their raises was approved unanimously.

The law authorizing the increase for the legislature members was approved by a 13-1 vote, with only Brian McGarry of Rotterdam — the body’s only Republican — voting against it, citing the potential budget crisis facing state government in the coming months.

“It was bad timing,” McGarry said. “Look, the state is in a $6.1 billion budget hole, when a lot of other states are doing well. I just thought the timing was bad, and the optics were bad. I get it about it being 20 years without a raise, but it just didn’t make sense to me, given the current economics of New York state.”

McGarry said he had no problem with approving the raises for Dagostino or Ackerley because they are doing good jobs.

The set of raises for elected officials were first proposed earlier this month. The vote came after a public hearing last week at which three people spoke against the raises for the County Legislature, one person spoke in favor, and frequent County Legisature critic Elmer Bertsch of Niskayuna said he wouldn’t be opposed if the legislators did a better job.

“It was overdue,” said Legislature Majority Leader Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady. “It’s our first raise in 21 years, the timing is good because the county’s finances are stable. One of the reasons we went this long is we were trying to stabilize the county’s finances. When we were looking at austerity and asking employees to make sacrifices, it’s the wrong time to give yourselves a raise.”

The county clerk’s salary will increase from $93,989 to $98,000. Ackerley, who was elected to a four-year term in 2018, is the daughter of County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam.

Sheriff Dagostino, meanwhile, will see his annual salary increase from $99,379 to $112,500.

Legislators said the salaries are tied to the jobs, and not the people in those positions.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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