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Hearing planned on raises for sheriff, county clerk

Hearing planned on raises for sheriff, county clerk

Two percent raises for elected officials require local law
Hearing planned on raises for sheriff, county clerk
Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino is pictured in 2015.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- The County Legislature is considering raises, including two years of retroactive pay increases, for two of the county's full-time elected officials.

The Legislature will host a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Dec. 11 in the legislative chambers about the raises, which would be for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 for Sheriff Dominic Dagostino and the county clerk.

County Clerk John Woodward is retiring and will be replaced by Cara Ackerley, who is currently a deputy clerk. Ackerley was elected in November.

The raises are 1.5 percent for 2017 and 2 percent each for 2018 and 2019.

A county spokesman said the raises are in keeping with a county policy of granting management employees the same raises that are negotiated with the unionized employees. The county in May reached a three-year agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association covering the same three years.

Under the proposed local law, which could be adopted following the public hearing, the salary for the sheriff would be $95,911 for 2017, $97,431 for 2018, and $99,379 for 2019. The salaries for the county clerk would be $90,784 in 2017, $92,146 in 2018, and $93,989 in 2019.

County Legislator Brian McGarry of Rotterdam, one of just two Republicans on the Democrat-controlled county board, said he initially had concerns about granting mid-term raises to elected officials, but his questions have been satisfactorily answered and he expects to support the local law.

"It was predicated on the CSEA contract getting finalized," he said. "It has been past procedure for many decades that the managers get the same raises after a union contract is finalized ... It's nothing that has not been done historically."

While appointed county managers can be awarded raises through the county budget's adoption, changing the salary of an elected official requires the Legislature to approve a local law.

McGarry said that, because the raises were 2 percent or less, the size did not bother him.

County spokesman Joe McQueen said legislators regard giving raises to elected managers a matter of fairness, and the procedure for awarding annual raises to elected officials is set in the county charter.

"Traditionally. the Legislature has done this; the last time was in 2015," McQueen said.

The only other countywide elected official who is a department manager is District Attorney Robert Carney, and McQueen noted his salary is set by state law, which matches the salaries of full-time district attorneys to that of County Court judges.

Ackerley, the incoming county clerk, is the daughter of County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam. Jasenski has indicated he will abstain on the vote because of the financial benefit his daughter would receive.

McGarry said he was initially concerned that the law would grant an inappropriate departing raise to Woodward, who didn't seek re-election this year after 24 years in office, but he said he is now satisfied that the Legislature is just following past practice.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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