ALBANY – Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I- 57th District) has passed legislation (S.519) to reduce the local property tax burden by providing 100 percent state aid to cover the increase in the county district attorneys’ salaries.
Tied in statute to judicial pay, full-time local district attorneys receive a mandated salary increase as part of a raise for the state’s judges determined by the State Commission of Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation in 2015.
While the state’s judicial system sets its own budget, which incorporated the judges’ pay raise, funding for the additional costs for district attorneys was not included in the Governor’s original proposal, or the final enacted budget. While the issue was raised by the Senate during the budget hearings and negotiations, it ultimately did not advance.
“County governments do not have discretion over district attorneys’ pay, and their salary increase came as an unexpected budget cost. Providing this relief will ease the load for hardworking property taxpayers and county governments, saving money for residents and businesses,” said Senator Young.
New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario has previously called the mandated salary increase without an offsetting increase in the state budget “unprecedented,” citing that last year was the first time in more than 50 years that the state had not paid for the DA salary increase that was mandated on county property taxpayers.
“When incorporated into the total state budget, the cost represents about .00001 percent of this year’s enacted budget. The state can shoulder this cost much easier than our local governments, and it is only right that we do so. Along with passing this legislation, I definitely would support a chapter amendment to the budget that would make the counties whole,” said Senator Young.
In 2015, New York State covered about 50 percent of local district attorneys’ salaries, with the respective county’s budget covering the remaining salary cost. However, by not providing for additional aid in the Executive Budget Proposal or the final budget, for the second straight year, counties are absorbing a 15 percent increase, approximately $30,000, without any additional assistance from Albany.