The Chautauqua County Legislature has approved two four-year union contracts.
The contract with CSEA Unit 6300 includes a 3% wage increase in 2024 and 2025 and a 3.5% wage increase in 2026 and 2027. It also includes a $1,000 bonus each year of the contract, contingent on the inflation index. If inflation is lower than 2% the bonuses will not be awarded. CSEA is the largest bargaining group of employees in Chautauqua County government with over 700 employees being members.
The four-year contract with CCSEA includes a3.5% wage increase each of the four years of the contract through 2027 as well as a $1,500 bonus each year. This union represents employees of the County Jail.
Legislator Bob Bankoski called the contracts a “win-win” for both employees and County Government, “It’s been a struggle, I know, as far as recruiting people to work for the county and retaining the good workers that we have. And I think this contract addresses some fair pay raises and so on and so forth to keep our good workers, keep them coming back to Chautauqua County, and not leaving and going back to the private sector.”
Legislator Terry Niebel said while he agreed with a lot of what Legislator Bankoski said, he cautioned that the contract agreement will result in a $1.7 million increase to the local share in the 2024 budget, “What I’m hearing is that some people say that this is okay, that we can cover this increase, and still come under the state property tax cap. The state property tax cap does allow us to increase taxes by a certain percent. It’s set by the state so it might be 1.7 or 2%, whatever they say it is, but this is not the mindset that I’m in and I hope none of my collegues are either.”
Niebel said with wages increasing, the Legislature and County Government should be looking for ways to save money in equipment, contractual accounts, or efficiencies in departments.
Both contracts passed by a vote of 17-0. Legislators John Hemmer and Dave Wilfong were absent.