Tony Pucci

Two weeks ago Tony Pucci, a member of the Veteran Zoning Board who retired after teaching English at Notre Dame High School for forty years, wrote an Op-Ed to the Star Gazette, critiquing the level of compensation paid to Chemung County legislators as well as County Executive Tom Santulli and his Deputy, Mike Krusen. A link to Tony’s piece is found here.

Specifically, Pucci argued that paying our county executive, who oversees a population of roughly 87,000 people, more money than 41 of 50 US governors – including those who govern Massachusetts, Texas and Florida – is inappropriate, stating:

Not only did the Chemung County legislators vote themselves a pay increase, they also voted on Resolution No. 17-629, which establishes the new salary for the county executive at $166,273. This resolution passed by a vote of 15-0. That salary places our county executive as one of the most highly compensated county executives in the state.

By comparison, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott earns $150,000. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker makes $151,800. Florida Gov. Rick Scott receives $130,273. Given the responsibilities of governing a state with a population in the millions and a budget in the billions, what possible justification is there for the executive of a small upstate county to have a salary that is higher than theirs? In fact, the Chemung County Executive’s $166,273 salary is higher than that received by 41 of the nation’s 50 governors.

Today Krusen, who is running to replace Santulli when he retires at the end of this term, announced a proposed compensation plan that includes reduced pay for our county’s top administrators. In it, Krusen stated that “[w]ith the pending change in our long-tenured County Executive’s position, it is an appropriate time to review the compensation and benefits provided to this position.” A link to Krusen’s announcement is found here.

Although Krusen’s announcement does not address the inflated salaries of legislators or the yearly pension of more than $80,000 he currently receives in addition to his active service salary, it shows that speaking out in a respectful way on matters of public interest can really make a difference.


Christina Sonsire