Responding to recommendations made by the Compensation Advisory Panel regarding salary and stipend increases, the Republican caucus continues its strong opposition to any increase in salaries or stipends for county legislators.
The Republican caucus is supportive of many of the reforms recommended last week by the non-partisan, citizen Compensation Advisory Panel. The Republican caucus has consistently opposed stipend increases since they were proposed by the Board’s Democratic leadership last December and also proposes that any stipends for committee chairpersons and leadership positions should be set by the entire Board of Legislators as a fixed salary and not awarded by the Board chairman as a political award for loyalty.
Minority Leader George Oros (R/Cortlandt) said the seven-member Compensation Advisory Panel did a thorough job in its evaluation of the salaries and stipends for the Board and its staff, but maintained there was no justification to propose a 7.5% salary increase for legislators. Oros noted that legislator salaries were increased just three years ago.
“The current compensation for legislators is adequate, especially considering what we do is supposed to be public service,” Oros said. “These are very difficult economic times and we need to set an example at the county government level by tightening our belts, just as every taxpayer is doing in their homes.”
Minority Whip Jim Maisano (R/New Rochelle) said he fully supports the recommendations by the Panel that any proposed pay raises and stipend increases should be reviewed before the legislators stand for re-election and not take effect until the subsequent legislative term.
“We don’t support pay or stipend increases, but when these decisions are evaluated by our Board, we must conduct this review in an open process with extensive public input, and then vote on the proposal before Election Day.” Maisano said. “However, we should take any pay hikes off the table when thousands of our county union workers haven’t had a contract in more than two years and many homeowners are worrying about paying their mortgage.”
“It’s all about doing the right thing, and the right thing is not increasing our salaries and looking for ways to reduce the budget of the Board of Legislators,” added Legislator Gordon Burrows (R/Bronxville).
The Republican Caucus has introduced a series of specific recommendations based upon the Compensation Advisory Panel report. The Caucus welcomes a full Board discussion of the recommendations. Our specific recommendations are as follows:
- We oppose any increase in salary or stipends for legislators, committee chairs or leadership positions.
- We support the Panel’s recommendation that, “Any and all compensation (base salary and/or stipend) increases approved by the Board of Legislators should be effective January 1, 2010 starting with the legislative session subsequent to the next election.”
- We support the Panel’s recommendation that, “Any compensation increases after 2010 should be considered only in odd numbered years.”
- We support the Panel’s recommendation that, “All compensation increases should be voted on by the legislators prior to the election and, if approved, should be effective on the subsequent January 1.”
- We support the Panel’s finding that, “The structure of the legislative body would benefit from a review with the intent of creating accurate job descriptions and of streamlining for efficiency and effectiveness. For example, the Chief Advisor function needs to be defined.” We further urge the adoption of defined organizational charts and detailed job descriptions for every Board staff position.
- We support the Panel’s finding that, “Legislators could benefit from using the numerous resources which exist in the community to enhance their oversight duties, such as AICPA assistance with the budget review, or enlisting the pro bono services of the numerous multinational corporations in the County.”
- We further support the elimination of stipends being controlled by the Board chairman for committee chairs and/or other positions. We recommend that stipends for committee chairs and leadership positions be set in advance in a similar manner as legislator salaries and remain from year to year as a fixed amount that can only be changed by a vote of the entire Board of Legislators during a change to the salary structure.