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Politics and Government

Onondaga County comptroller says legislature and executive pay raises are illegal

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Bob Antonacci at the Onondaga County comptroller's office.

The fight over pay raises for the Onondaga County executive and legislature now involves the county comptroller’s office. The question is whether the raises were legal.

After the legislature voted raises for themselves and the county executive, Bob Antonacci, the county comptroller, made it known that he believed the county charter and county laws say that raises can only happen during the budget process or through a local referendum.

“Both salary increases were illegal, improper as to timing and procedure,” Antonacci said. "We could not pay these pay raises. They need to go back through the budget, or in the case of the county executive, a local law subject to referendum. Giving the people of this community the opportunity to be heard needs to be done.”

As the pay raises where scheduled to go through this week, Antonacci ordered that they be removed from the paychecks on Tuesday. Bill Fisher, the deputy county executive, directed that the raises be put back in, which they were.  

“He’s ignoring decades of past practice where it was done otherwise,” Fisher said. "Those resolutions before they are even voted on, have to be reviewed by the law department and determined to be legal. So they voted on those things with the legal opinion that they were lawful.”

In a letter to Antonacci in December, the county attorney told him the raises are legal and gave past examples of raises for the comptroller, the county executive and the legislature that were approved by a vote of the legislature, the same way it did last month.

Antonacci said the raises for both the county executive and legislature by resolution, after election day, are unprecedented. He said his office will most likely file a lawsuit in state Supreme Court.