Immediate Release

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Thursday, July 14, 2020

Brian Adey

Griffo Will Reject Pay Increase
If County Property Taxes Increase

Oneida County Executive Joseph A. Griffo today announced that he will reject any scheduled salary increases for the duration of his term in any years when the county budget requires a property tax levy increase.

“There is something wrong with the image of getting an increase in pay at a time when people are asked to pay increased taxes,” Griffo said. “My proposal will be very simple and clear-cut: If the taxes go up in the years covered by the fiscal plan I am preparing to cover the final years of my term, then I will not accept a raise. That’s my personal way to tell the senior citizens, businesses and all of our other property owners who have to pay property taxes that if they have to pay, I have to pay for it.”

Griffo said that his proposal will not cover other county positions at this time. “County Government has a number of department head positions, some of which are appointed and some of which are elected. I don’t think I should be the one determining whether another elected official takes a raise,” he said. “I am a strong believer in linking pay and performance, which is why I wanted to take the lead on this to set an example others – either in County Government or elsewhere at other levels -- may choose to follow. I believe in holding down taxes. If I can’t make it work so that taxes are held flat, then I don’t get a reward.”

Griffo noted that although the dollar amount involved is small, for him the symbolism looms large. “I understand that if I have to forgo a 2% or 3% raise that this is not going to change the county fiscal picture. It is a sign that on my watch, County Government will not go about business as usual when taxpayers are asked for more. It’s really a covenant of trust. This reinforces the message that we are here to operate government because we care about public service, not because we’re out for ourselves.”

Griffo said offering to live without a raise is in keeping with his overall philosophy. “When I became County Executive they told me I had a car to use because it went with the job. I didn’t think full-time use of a county car was appropriate. I use my personal vehicle to drive back and forth to work – just like everybody else. The only time I use a county car is when I am required to drive out of the area or make appearances on county business. Little things say a lot about your attitude to the people who pay the taxes, and I am always conscious that any money government spends came from the taxes of someone who had to work hard to earn that money.”

Griffo said that pay raises for department heads will also be addressed in his upcoming fiscal plan, which is said will be a roadmap for the county’s fiscal future. “At a time when we are looking at a number of dramatic options for altering the size and scope of county government, we need to live with the current system of compensation, which was developed long before I became County Executive. I will address the issue of department head salaries, but nothing will take effect until we have completed our reorganization.”