PUTNAM POSTING: You Get What You Pay For

Jennifer Maher | November 2017

In the 2018 budget, Legislators are getting a 13.9% raise, according to the Putnam County Budget Office, bringing their salary to $40,839, which amounts to 1.52% a year since the Legislature has not had a raise since 2007 (10 years). The County Executive’s salary will rise to $155,209 from $151,600.

A recent Facebook post was critical of this increase. The poster claimed, “[Dutchess County] part-time legislators earn $15,450…they have had no raise since 2013. Neither has their County Executive whose salary…is $132,960.” The poster argues that, with a smaller population, Putnam County’s salaries should be lower than Dutchess County’s, which they are not at present.

Such comparisons may not make complete sense. There is a saying that “you get what you pay for.” Qualified candidates are getting harder and harder to find. Running for office just doesn’t seem worth it, partly because of the money, especially in a place with politics as ugly as Putnam County. Elected officials take time away from family and potentially lucrative jobs, making a huge personal sacrifice, yet we treat them as if they are volunteers and often don’t hold them accountable to the degree we should.

We seem to wind up with candidates who are running for all the wrong reasons. Some are driven by ego, some by the political machine, and many because they don’t have another job and actually need the income. If we ditch the part time mentality and offered salaries to attract talented people in these positions, we could return these offices to the respect they deserve and, get something done in the process.

Putnam County has been a trailblazer of sorts in having our first woman County Executive. Some have asked if the salary issue wouldn’t be so prominent if the County Executive was a man. That question becomes more interesting since the Deputy County Executive will not be replaced in the 2018 budget. This means that the work done by Deputy CE Bruce Walker, who has taken a job in the Trump Administration. will be absorbed by the County Executive and the Legislators.


Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher is chairwoman, the Putnam County Business Council and currently serves as the president of the Putnam/Westchester Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors.