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Amherst judges may get a raise next year.

Amherst Court Administrator Randi Cohen Kennedy asked the seven-member Amherst Town Board Monday to consider hiking the salaries of the town's two justices by $8,000 next year to $50,000.

Currently, Amherst Justice Mark G. Farrell and Sam Maislin both earn $42,000 a year for the part-time position.

But neither Farrell, a town justice since 1991, nor Maislin, a town judge since 1993, have received a raise since being in office, Mrs. Cohen Kennedy said.

Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick is assembling the 2000 budget and needs to set salaries for elected officials by next week.

Council Members William L. Kindel and Jane S. Woodward, following the Republican message for lower taxes next year, are against the raises.

Kindel, in fact, asked Ms. Grelick to freeze salaries for all elected officials next year.

"You have six other people to appeal to," Kindel told Mrs. Cohen Kennedy, "because I'm not going to approve (a raise) no matter how much I respect the judges."

Amherst Town Court is among the busiest courts in the state, generating a total of $1.6 million in revenues from fines and fees last year, Mrs. Cohen Kennedy said. Those revenues are second only to the Town of Southampton court on Long Island, she said.

Meanwhile, Amherst's justices are paid less than Cheektowaga justices, who earn $58,000, but are full-time. Town of Tonawanda judges make $45,000 a year, she added.

There's a chance neither Maislin nor Farrell may benefit from a pay raise next year. Maislin is running for re-election and Farrell is running for State Supreme Court justice.

But the position's pay should reflect the court's heavy workload.

"I feel that it is important that the judges' salaries are in line with other elected officials, not only in Amherst, but the rest of Western New York," Mrs. Cohen Kennedy said.

The raises would not increase the court's budget. A court employee resigned earlier this year and an $18,872 salary was budgeted for next year. That money, instead, could be used for the $8,000 raises, Mrs. Cohen Kennedy said.

The Town Board will consider the request and decide before next week. But at least four other Town Board members indicated at Monday's work session that they would grant raises for the judges.

"I'd be willing to vote for a ($8,000) raise over a period of time, maybe a couple of years," Ms. Grelick said.

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