BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Erie County Executive Chris Collins' proposed budget for 2011 includes 223 layoffs in order to avoid a property tax increase; however, there are big pay increases amid the pink slips.
Marjie from Amherst e-mailed our tipline, complaining about the county executive's priorities. So 2 On Your Side poured through the budget proposal and found several examples of pay hikes in departments that also face layoffs.
WEB EXTRA: CLICK HERE TO READ COLLINS' ENTIRE 2011 PROPOSED BUDGET
For instance, Collins proposes a $25,823 pay increase for the county attorney. The county is currently trying to fill the position left empty by Cheryl Green, who resigned to run for State Supreme Court judge. Despite that pay hike, Collins also proposes laying off an executive assistant who makes $37,608.
While attending an event with the Seneca Nation of Indians, Collins defended his decision.
"I need to have a qualified individual representing the taxpayer, as we have to fight battles for instance with the Department of Justice, who are trying to squander taxpayer dollars," Collins said. "I need an advocate who will fight for taxpayers, and we have to pay that person a competitive wage."
However, this practice is not limited to the county attorney position. Collins proposes a $6,712 raise for his deputy county executive while laying off an executive assistant in the same office.
Collins' budget proposal would give the Assistant Deputy Commissioner in the Social Services Department a raise worth $9,371. In that very same office, a secretarial typist would be given a pink slip.
Other raises include a $4,776 hike for the Commissioner of the Central Police Services; a $5,735 increase for the Commissioner of Environment and Planning; and a $4,389 hike for the deputy commissioner of that department.
Collins also proposes creating a new Director of Real Estate within the Buildings and Grounds division of the Department of Public Works. That position would pay $129,453. That new position comes as that very division faces 38 layoffs.