St. Lawrence County votes to increase salary, keep insurance option for legislators
By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON -- St. Lawrence County legislators voted to increase pay of all members of the county board by $3,000 beginning in January.
Voting against the measure were Legislators Rick Perkins D-Parishville, Tony Arquiett D-Helena, Daniel Fay D-Potsdam, John Burke R-Norwood and Lisa Bell D-Massena.An earlier proposal would have provided an additional $3,000 for legislators who did not receive health insurance from the county, however two amendments to the resolution Monday disallowed any monetary incentive.
Under the new law the chairman will receive a $3,000 increase in salary, from $14,000 to $17,000, the vice chair will receive a $3,000 increase, from $11,000 to $14,000, and legislators will receive $3,000 increases, from $9,000 to $12,000.
The measure drew heated debate from several legislators who felt any increase would set a bad example for the county that has been cutting costs and downsizing personnel.
Among the most vocal were legislators Burke and Fay.
Fay said legislators were not in need of an increase in pay. He said as part-time employees the county legislators are overpaid, especially when factoring in the health insurance option.
He said legislators receiving health insurance and other fringe benefits are making more than $30,000.
He said he couldn’t find a part-time job that could come close to those wages when factoring in the benefits.
Currently five legislators receive health insurance from the county.
While there did appear to be some agreement that county legislators should not be provided with health insurance, no resolution was put forward to restrict the benefits.
Legislators supporting the pay hike pointed out that it had been 18 years since the previous salary increase, which averages out to about 1.6 percent per year. They also argued that the compensation would need to be hiked if the county hopes to bring younger candidates in to office in the future.