Dutchess County Legislature passes large salary increases for elected county officials

The Dutchess County Legislature passed a budget change to increase the salaries of elected officials in Dutchess County this week.
The changes were approved by some Republican legislative members during the Nov. 15 committee meeting, according to the Democratic Minority Leader Yvette Valdez Smith.
Valdez Smith tells News 12 that effective Jan. 1, the county executive’s salary will be bumped 18% to $185,000, the county clerk will earn $150,000 (26% increase), the chair of the legislature salary will jump 56% to $54,500, legislative leaders will earn $45,500 (an 81% increase), assistant leaders will earn $36,500 (76% increase) and legislators will earn $27,500 (68% increase). Committee chairs will also receive an additional $3,000 stipend when no stipend is currently provided now.
“I will not vote for these pay raises,” said Valdes Smith. “I believe in a living wage for all, and I know how much we all give as public servants. However, this huge increase in salary cannot be justified.”
Legislator Kristofer Munn also opposed the salary increases.
“Last year, Republicans stuffed a $25 million giveaway for luxury stadium improvements into the budget at the last minute with no notice, and no transparency. We opposed it. In January, they changed the law to allow them to change salaries after election day. We opposed it. And now, they have voted for higher salaries again, as an amendment dropped at the last minute,” says Munn.
Nick Joseph, assistant to Dutchess County Chairman Gregg Pulver, tells News 12 that the raises mirror cost of living increases for their largest collective bargaining unit, the CSEA. Joseph says legislators in Putnam and Westchester counties make more than two to four times the amount that their counterparts in Dutchess County.
Legislator Michael Polasek said, “We believe it was fair and equitable to the hardworking elected officials in their next term and I am pleased it garnered bipartisan support.”
Just this week, News 12 reported on similar salary increases for officials in Putnam County.