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Onondaga County elections commissioners get $30,000 payout, after attempted pay cut

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny.

Onondaga County paid its two elections commissioners more than $15,000 each in unused vacation time. That’s because the county Legislature created new positions for the elections commissioners, in a class that won’t receive any cost of living or step increases. This came after the county executive vetoed an attempt by the Legislature to dock the pay of the commissioners by $7,000 in December. One legislator said it started as political retribution by the Republican-controlled Legislature against the Democratic elections commissioner.

Democratic Legislator Bill Kinne said he believes this issue was first brought to the Legislature because some of the Republicans do not like Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny.

“But they knew they couldn’t just attack him, so they had to go after both of them,” Kinne said.

Kinne said Republican legislators didn’t think this through. He said it will take 15 years for the county to recoup the $30,000 by getting rid of the cost-of-living increases.

“They claim to be fiscally responsible people, but this is anything but being fiscally responsible,” Kinne said. “A payout in a time where we’re strapped for cash and don’t need extra costs.”

Back in December, Republicans denied that their attempted pay cut was meant to punish the elections commissioners. They said it was meant to right size their salaries, which is nearly $100,000 a year.

The elections commissioner positions are now also exempt from having to report their work hours. Czarny said he’ll still record his time anyway.

“Just to keep myself honest and accountable,” Czarny said.

Czarny said he knows some Republican legislators don’t like him, calling him too outspoken and partisan, but he doesn’t care.

“I hope they’re not using county resources to enact a political or partisan revenge," Czarny said. "But I can promise you, it won’t change the way I do my job at all.” 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.