Ways and Means Committee

The Cayuga County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee meets Tuesday in Auburn.

The Cayuga County Legislature is considering giving its members a $1,000 raise. Legislators haven't gotten a bump in pay in 12 years, so there's nothing unseemly about bringing up the idea, but the wording on this particular piece of legislation needs a little more scrutiny before it comes down to a final vote.

The Legislature raised the base salary for its members to $10,100 in 2005, so it's been a long, long time since anybody's gotten a raise. And a $1,000 raise next year amounts to a total of $15,000 — no big deal considering that the county's annual budget is more than $146 million.

But part of the discussion that caught our attention was the potential for an annual $1,000 pay raise, rather than a one-time increase. If such a raise would carry on in perpetuity, it would mean that legislators would be making more than $15,000 in 2022 and $20,000 five years after that.

It's difficult to determine how much work is involved in governing from one county to another, but Onondaga County legislators make about $29,000. That area has a population six times greater than Cayuga County and an annual budget of $1.29 billion. A closer comparison may be Wayne County, where the population is about 10,000 more than Cayuga County and members of the board of supervisors get paid $15,700.

To be clear, it may very well be time to increase the salary for lawmakers in Cayuga County, but at a time when most workers are happy to get a 2-percent raise, we question the Legislature's proposal for a raise of nearly 10 percent. And with additional $1,000 annual raises tacked onto that, the Legislature — and the taxpayers — had better take a close look at this proposal before anyone hurries to sign it into law.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.