They knew their taxpaying constituents were going to be livid. Nobody gets 35% raises.
They knew they’d get at least one editorial from us, and probably a column or two, and well as some nasty reader comments in articles and on social media.
They knew Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy was publicly pummeled in September for asking for a 16% pay raise to make up for a stagnant pay check during his eight years in office.
So what on Earth would possess Schenectady County legislators to seek huge pay raises for themselves and other elected officials and to think they could get away with it?
The answer? It’s all in the timing.
For starters, they know that when all the bluster over the pay raise dies down, as it inevitably will, the press and the taxpayers will have forgotten all about them by the time everyone getting them comes up for re-election.
Legislators just got through an election last month and aren’t up for re-election until 2021, just in time for their raises to kick in. The sheriff and the county clerk, who are in line for hefty mid-term pay raises, also aren’t on the ballot for a couple of years. By the time they all face voters again, this will all be a distant memory.
Also, did you notice they didn’t include the raises in the county budget they just passed at the end of October?
Did it suddenly dawn on the sheriff, county clerk and legislators in just the last six weeks that they’ve all been underpaid for years? Doubtful.
Again, timing is everything. By the time they’re talking about the budget a year from now, these raises will be just another line item.
Their timing also was impeccable in that they got to see what happened with McCarthy’s request for a raise. He got a raise. But it wasn’t nearly the 16% he asked for. Then again, the mayor’s smart enough to know he was never going to get the full amount. He got 4%, and the Democratic incumbent will likely get annual increases from his all-Democratic council after this.
Ask for the moon, then show the taxpayers your goodwill by agreeing to a much smaller amount. It’s Voter Manipulation 101.
With taxpayers as stressed as they are, nobody in government should be getting such large one-time pay hikes, even to make up for years of not getting raises.
Raises in the private sector don’t work like that. Government shouldn’t either.
If citizens really object to these raises, their best chance to stop or reduce them will come during a public hearing next Tuesday (Dec. 10) at 7 p.m. and again when legislators go to vote on the raises on Dec. 19.
After that, it will be too late to make a difference.
Timing, after all, is everything.