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Help wanted in Hamburg Town Court, but pay is low

Hamburg Town Court is having trouble finding court security staff.

Town Justice Carl Morgan said the reason is clear: the low pay.

“No one’s interested,” he said. “Principally because the rate of pay is less than what they’re paying for even part-time, off-the-books jobs for retired officers.”

The pay is $15.29 an hour and has not been raised in years, Councilman Tom Best Jr. said.

Two of the town’s four court officers retired recently, and the town was able to replace one but can’t find another person willing to work for the money. The job usually is held by retired police officers, and Morgan said he has reached out to retired officers he knows to help staff the busy court but has not had any luck.

Court Administrator Barbara Anderson Brauch said usually, two officers work at a time but there are several court sessions a week, such as traffic court on Mondays when several hundred people could show up. She said the officers have been taking turns working on their off week.

Hamburg’s justice court is the sixth busiest in the state and the third busiest in Erie County behind Amherst and Cheektowaga. The town has had court officers since 1988, Brauch said.

“There’s a real need for security just because of the numbers involved,” Morgan told the Town Board during a work session Monday. “It’s not because we’ve had any immediate problems. Right now, they’re stretched very thin.”

The officers must have a valid pistol permit and qualify on the shooting range once a year, Brauch said.

“I’ve been trying to get an increase in their pay since they’ve been hired,” she said. “Right now, the confidential cleaners make more per hour.”

Increasing the pay to $20 an hour would add about $5,000 to the court security budget, Best said.