Pay raise for Cortland County management criticized by union rep.

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Department heads and management employees in Cortland County government will receive a 1.5 percent raise in 2016 following a vote by the Cortland County Legislature Thursday night.

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The pay increase, which is tied to the county’s management compensation plan, was criticized by Colin Cummins, a CSEA union representative for more than 300 county employees.

Cummins said during public comment Thursday that members of his union are receiving only a 1 percent increase next year. He proposed that employees in management receive a similar increase.

“An increase in 1 percent for management employees is more in line with reality and what other hard-working county employees are receiving,” Cummins said.

“I’d like you also to consider the message you would be sending if an increase of over 1 percent is approved: that the people who plow your roads, who provide needed programs for the elderly, who help keep children and families in our community safe are somehow less important to the functioning of our government,” Cummins added.

Prior to the legislature’s vote, Cortland County Personnel Officer Annette Barber said that while a 1 percent increase for county employees is not reflective of their hard work, managers in county government “are also due a raise.”

“We often have special needs within the personnel committee to have managers be placed higher than base [salary] because the union personnel is very close or exceeding what managers are making,” Barber said. “If you don’t do the 1.5 percent [increase], I think you are further complicating the situation.”

Legislator James Denkenberger proposed reducing the pay increase to 1 percent, which was rejected by the legislature in a 14-2 vote.

“I realize there may be some inequities here, but there are also some benefits that senior management gets that rank and file does not,” Denkenberger said. “There are other compensatory benefits of their position than payroll.”

Union employees recently agreed to a 4-year contract that includes a provision for a 1 percent annual salary increase.

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