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PANEL MULLS NEW SALARY SCHEDULE IN WAKE OF OUTCRY

A new salary schedule for department heads and other nonunion county employees is under consideration by a County Legislature committee.

The Human Resources Committee is expected to vote on it at its next meeting March 12, Chairman Malcolm A. Needler, R-North Tonawanda, said after the panel discussed the matter Monday.

The plan would give most of the 119 affected employees raises above the 3 percent the Legislature originally granted them for this year.

But the raises would be less than what they would have received if the Legislature hadn't abolished the former management salary schedule in December.

If the plan is adopted, the Legislature will be spending about $60,000 more in raises than it had budgeted, Human Resources Director Bruce R. Fenwick said.

The decision to hold the raises to 3 percent and abolish the salary schedule drew outcries from employees who had been expecting more money.

Fenwick was unable to tell the committee how much money the county would save over the former salary table. "It is a substantial saving," he said.

The affected employees are divided into three groups. The first is 76 flat-salaried employees, including most political appointees and department heads.

Of those 76, Fenwick said, 36 who had already reached the top salary level in their job groups will not receive any additional raises this year.

As for the other 40, Fenwick said they will likely receive $600 to $700 each on top of the 3 percent raises they already received for 2001. "They're all going to benefit," he said.

Fenwick said the additional raises will be less than the 3.5 to 6 percent the flat-salaried employees would have recived under the old pay scale.

Twenty-eight exempt employees, many of whom are confidential secretaries for department heads, will have their raises bumped up from 3 to 4 percent, and in addition they will receive step increases similar to those granted the Civil Service Employees Association members in their last contract.

Finally, 15 assistant district attorneys, who had their own pay scale, will see additional raises of 3.1 to 4.3 percent, on top of the 3 percent they already received.

"It doesn't give them everything they wanted, but it's more than they're getting, and they're satisfied with it," Fenwick said. He said he had conferred with District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III and his top assistants on the matter.

In fact, Fenwick said the five district attorneys who had already reached the top of their pay groups have agreed to take small pay cuts this year to help make the plan work for their colleagues.

Fenwick said the 19 job groups in the old management pay scale are being reduced to 17. "With the old schedule, there was no consistency between the various levels and the various steps," he said. "(Now) the dollar differential is equal."

"We're going to move on this at our next meeting," Needler said. "I think Bruce did a pretty good job."

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