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State commission mandates 20-percent pay hike for all NY district attorneys, local legislators 'appalled'

By Billie Owens
Apr 7, 2016, 1:51pm

The state Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation has recommended -- mandated -- a 20-percent raise in the annual salary of the District Attorney.

The increase of $27,705 for 2016 -- effective this April 1 -- would not be reimbursed by the state and would come out of the county's Contingency fund.

The compensation for Lawrence Friedman, the man who would benefit from the largess, would go from $152,500 a year to $183,000.

And his counterparts in counties statewide, likewise, would receive a pay hike, if the Commission's recommendations are heeded.

But the push back was swift and decisive when the resolution was presented at Wednesday afternoon's Ways & Means Committee. County Manager Jay Gsell was required to draft the resolution for the "2016 salary schedule amendment/budget transfer-District Attorney salary increase."

It was characterized as another example of Albany trying to "shove something down our throats."

Rather than voting on the resolution, the committee voted to table the matter and agreed that a letter should be drafted and sent to state officials voicing their opposition to the salary increase. Staff will also reach out to the state association of counties and seek its support in fighting yet another unfunded mandate.

"I'm appalled at this and think every county in the state should oppose it," said Chairman Robert Bausch.

To put it in perspective, fiscally speaking, Gsell said, statewide it amounts to $1.6 million out of a $154 billion budget. The proposed raises, all less than $50,000 each, account for a one-quarter of 1 percent of the budget.

"You want to give somebody a raise?" said Committee Member Ray Cianfrini. "God bless you. You pay for it."

Committee Member Marianne Clattenburg said what's the point of getting a 2-percent property tax cap in place and working to stop unfunded mandates, only to have salary increases forced upon you? You're back to square one.

The New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive Compensation is an independent body tasked with examining, evaluating and making recommendations with respect to compensation for New York State’s judges, members of the state legislature, and state officials named in section 169 of the Executive Law. The recommendations take effect unless modified or abrogated (annuled) by legislation prior to taking effect. 

Every four years, beginning last June, the Commission is established with seven appointed members – three are designated by the Governor, one by the President Pro Tempore of the New York State Senate, one by the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and two by the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, one of whom serves as chair of the Commission.

They are: Sheila Birnbaum -- chair, Hon. Barry A. Cozier (retired), Roman B. Hedges, Mitra Hormuz, Gary Johnson, Hon. James J. Lack (retired), and Fran Reiter.

They made their decision in accordance with Judiciary Law 183-a, "which links judicial salaries with county district attorneys' salaries and requires district attorneys' salaries to be at least as high as the County Court Judge in the County." In turn, "the salary of a state Supreme Court Justice was fixed as of April 1 to be 95 percent of the salary of a Federal District Court Judge in effect at the time.

The break down of Friedman's $27,705 raise would be:

  • Personal Services -- $22,406
  • Social Security Tax -- $1,389
  • Medicare Tax -- $325
  • Retirement -- $3,585
Thomas Schneider

One more unelected body giving cover to the legislature and putting more weight on the tax paying citizens. I'm surprised the legislature doesn't have a commission setting their salary. One more reason to support upstate succession.

Apr 7, 2016, 5:20pm Permalink
david spaulding

has to be the best job in the world, spending other people's money. now there has to be a mandate of a 20% raise for the commission which will be decided by another appointed commission that will appointed by this commission. never ends. raise your hand if you have ever received a 20% raise.

Apr 7, 2016, 5:31pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

I found two pieces of this "puzzle" to be interesting.

First, I'm guessing that there are a number of people out there that would say, "Well. If you think about it, the person chosen for a District Attorney could make much more out in the "real world", on his own.

Well, maybe. BUT, the DA doesn't have to run around looking for cases to represent. And, he doesn't have to wait until someone comes into his office looking for an attorney. The DA has an un-ending array of cases, basically, handed to him. So many so, that, he may not even pursue them all.

And, the second thing that I found somewhat "odd"? How many of us ever were given a raise, where the "employer" took into consideration the EXTRA Social Security tax, and Medicare tax, and gave enough to cover THOSE added tax burdens.

I remember, years ago, when one of my brothers-in-law was told by his employer that he was giving him a 20-cent-per-hour raise (yes, that was when 20-cents was a darn good raise). My sister (his wife) sat down and figured out the taxes on the (new) wages, and contrasted them with the taxes on the (old) wages.
She deduced that the "extra 20-cents/hour would put them in the next higher tax bracket, and, in the end, they would LOSE almost $100.00/year in "takehome" money. He refused the raise. Now, if the employer had offered an extra 20-cents, PLUS any discrepancy in taxes owed, they probably would've accepted the raise.
I never heard of giving a raise where they figure in the extra that you might owe, and add that into your raise.

Again, the "sound" of NY. "Slu-u-u-u-r-r-r-r-p-p-p-p!"

Apr 7, 2016, 11:27pm Permalink
Brian Graz

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... coming at the same time that the Chief of the NYSP, D'Amico, unexpectedly resigned today... could it be the unConstitutional administration of Andrew Cuomo is trying to bribe the DAs to stay on his side... ?

What ever happened to Prete Bharara's investigation of Gov Cuomo?

Apr 8, 2016, 11:55pm Permalink

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