LOCKPORT – Niagara County Legislature Democrats said last week they intend to introduce budget amendments to cut proposed salary increases for several Republican officials that exceed the 2 percent non-union minimum that County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz announced when he released the budget Nov. 15.
Glatz and 34 other non-elected employees who aren’t in unions are budgeted to receive more than 2 percent raises in 2014. Eighteen of the 34 are assistant district attorneys, benefitting from a revised pay scale in that office.
But many others are patronage appointees who serve at the pleasure of the Republican majority in the Legislature, and they are the Democrats’ primary targets.
“There will be budget resolutions to reduce or eliminate those raises,” said Legislator Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls.
The recipients include Glatz, who is slated for a 6.2 percent raise to $111,500 a year, and Budget Director Daniel R. Huntington, whose pay is to rise by 4.76 percent to $80,099.
William Rutland, president of the county’s blue-collar union, said he was “furious.”
“The idea that the county manager and the budget director, who wrote the budget, would put in two of the highest raises for themselves is absolutely a crime,” Rutland said.
Meanwhile, the county is preparing to enter its third year of denying annual “step” increases to union members.
“This isn’t the right way to go about it when we’re in negotiations with the unions in the county,” Zona said.
Glatz said he hasn’t had a raise in the past two years.
“I look at it as 1.5 percent a year for four years,” he said.
He said other department heads and officials who are receiving extra raises had their salaries and duties compared to counterparts in other counties to determine fairer levels of compensation, and the health insurance situation was taken into account, too.
That’s because most non-union employees will begin contributing 10 percent of their health premiums as of July 1.
“It was a way of starting the contributions. You can’t look at raises in a vacuum,” Glatz said.
He said the county is willing to resume paying step increases if the unions make concessions on health premiums.
Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, reserved special scorn for Office for the Aging Director Kenneth M. Genewick, who is also a Republican alderman in the City of Lockport.
Last year, Genewick cut back on senior citizen nutrition sites in Niagara Falls, especially in the inner-city district of Democratic Legislator Owen T. Steed.
“He took the food out of the seniors’ mouths in Owen’s district and put the food in his own mouth with a 7 percent raise,” Virtuoso said.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” said Genewick, whose salary is to go up 7.47 percent to $57,679 a year.
Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, did not return a call for comment.
Huntington said the entire pay scale in the District Attorney’s Office was adjusted upward because low starting salaries of about $42,000 a year have made recruiting difficult.
However, Glatz said prosecutors will begin paying 10 percent of their health insurance premiums as of Jan. 1, six months earlier than other non-union employees.
Some of the more prominent raise recipients include County Attorney Claude A. Joerg, a 10 percent raise to $104,100 a year; Legislature Clerk Mary Jo Tamburlin, a 9.69 percent raise to $60,770; Public Defender David J. Farrugia, up 9.28 percent to $44,492; and Public Information Officer Christian W. Peck, up 8.3 percent to $59,004.
Also, Assistant County Attorney R. Joseph Foltz, up 6.92 percent to $69,535; Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser, up 6.89 percent to $69,818; Sewer District Director Anthony M. Hahn, up 7.12 percent to $69,810; Fire Coordinator Jonathan F. Schultz, up 4.43 percent to $67,622; and Human Resources Director Peter P. Lopes, up 2.95 percent to $78,717.