October 25, 2021

County pay favors some

Sheriff’s officers denied premium pay despite virus hazards

Kevin Conlon/city editor

A Cortland County sheriff’s officer walks past the sheriff’s office Wednesday. While many county employees receive a premium for working during the coronavirus pandemic, sheriff’s officers do not.

Cortland County officials are paying some essential employees called in to work time-and-a-half, while other employees — some deemed essential and some working from home — will get regular pay. Sheriff’s officers aren’t getting the premium pay.

“My people are here every day and that’s not the case, everyone else in the county but us,” Sheriff Mark Helms said.

However, workers covered under the nurse’s union contract or the Civil Service Employee Association Inc. agreements, and some specific management employees covered under the county’s management compensation plan, will receive time-and-a-half pay if they are called in to work, said Eric Mulvihill, the clerk of the Legislature, in an email Tuesday.

“Those employees covered by the emergency order are compensated at time-and a-half for actual hours worked as an essential employee,” he said. “If an employee is requested to work overtime, they would be compensated accordingly.”

Helms said that the two unions that cover the sheriff’s office’s employees have not contacted the county for additional money.

“We’re not actively in negotiations with their union,” Mulvihill said. Mulvihill said the county is waiting to hear if the local share of costs for these increases will be covered by the federal government after the state was declared a disaster area, allowing the state to receive funding for coronavirus-related costs.

“If the federal declaration does not cover the local portion of that cost, the expense to Cortland County would be 12.5%” of the increased pay, Mulvihill said.

As to what that cost might look like, Mulvihill said it’s a moving target because the county doesn’t know how long this might go on for.

“We’re not going to know until after the event has concluded,” he said.