Home and business owners in Niagara County will have the opportunity on Tuesday to weigh in on plans to raise salaries for county lawmakers and some county department heads.

The Niagara County Legislature will hold a public hearing on the 2018 budget proposal, which includes the salary hikes, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the legislative chambers at the Niagara County Courthouse, 175 Hawley St.

During a pre-Thanksgiving meeting, a majority of county lawmakers agreed to support a resolution that would provide each lawmaker $4,000 more per year under the proposed 2018 budget.

Under the budget proposal, salaries will be $19,075 for county lawmakers, $19,575 for the majority and minority leaders (currently Legislators Randy Bradt, R-North Tonawanda and Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, respectively) and $22,075 for the chairman of the legislature (currently Legislator Keith McNall, R-Lockport).

Legislators Michael Hill, R-Hartland, John Syracuse, R-Newfane and Bradt voted against the salary increase porposal, while Legislators Rebecca Wydysh, Jason Zona and Virtuoso were absent from the meeting.

The proposed 2018 Niagara County budget also includes funding to give all county employees a raise. Many of the biggest raises are for elected officials and non-elected department heads.

The budget has all non-union county employees receiving a 2.5 percent pay increase and some employees also receiving a “step” increase that takes effect in an employee’s first, second, third, fourth, fifth and eighth years on the payroll.

Meanwhile, most unionized county employees will receive a 2 percent salary increase, along with any “step” increases for which they are eligible.

The combination of annual and step increases means some department heads will make much bigger bucks next year.

Department of Public Works Commissioner Garret Meal is in line for a 6.7 percent salary increase, from $94,799 to $101,178.

Director of Community Mental Health Laura Kelemen will collect 4.7 percent more next year, bringing her pay to $111,784 from $106,449.

County Auditor James Sobczyk’s pay is set to rise nearly 7.9 percent, from $67,790 to $72,824.

Public Information Office Christian Peck is getting a 3.75 percent bump, bringing his salary to $71,843 from $69,14. County officials attributed the PIO’s raise to extra work resulting from flooding issues on Lake Ontario, not step increases.

County Attorney Claude Joerg is seeking the biggest raise of any county employee, from $111,828 to $131,500. The difference is almost 18 percent.


• WHAT: Niagara County Legislature budget hearing

• WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

• WHERE: Niagara County Courthouse, 175 Hawley St., Lockport

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