Lowville- The Lewis County District Attorney (DA) is set to see a raise of
    approximately $30,000 a year to $183,000, as a new state mandate has
    increased the minimum salary for the 57 District Attorney's throughout New
    York State.

    Leanne K. Moser, Lewis County District Attorney and Coroner, was on salary
    for $153,500 according to the 2016 Lewis County budget adopted in January.
    The county currently receives $72,189 from the state, through the DA Salary
    Fund Assistance Program, to help with the cost of the DA's salary. Officials
    throughout the state are calling on the state to fund the increased salary
    requirements in their entirety, as nothing was included in the current state
    budget to fund the mandated increase.

    "Our mandated tax cap, right now is approximately $37,000 dollars," Lewis
    County Manager Elizabeth Swearingin told us via email. "The DA raise is
    $30,850. In addition, the state has raised the eligibility level for indigent
    defense from 150% of the poverty level to 250%, thereby increasing the
    county’s cost of that service as well – again with no additional funding," she
    Ms. Swearingin added that "78% of our county tax revenues go directly back to
    the state to pay for state mandated programs. New York State gets 15% of its
    revenues from counties; the other 49 states in United States of America
    average 0.8% of revenues from counties."

    "It is really easy to vote in programs for which you do not have to pay. It seems
    like no one in Albany is listening," Ms. Swearingin concluded.

    The Lewis County Board of Legislators is set to pass a resolution at the regular
    May meeting requesting the state to fund this mandate.

    The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), on behalf of the state's
    57 counties, has called on the State Legislature to pass a chapter amendment
    to the 2016-17 State Budget that would require the state to pay the costs with
    mandated district attorney pay increase, according to a release from NYSAC.

    "This is a quintessential state mandate. The state raised the salary of an
    elected county official and they are making local taxpayers fund it," said
    NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer.

    On December 24, 2015, the New York State Commission on Legislative,
    Judicial, and Executive Compensation voted to recommend increasing all state
    judge salaries in 2016 and 2018. The recommended increase placed Supreme
    Court judges' salaries at $193,000 in 2016 and $203,000.00 in 2018 and
    placed County Court Judges at 95% of a Supreme Court Justice's salary. On
    April 1st the State approved the Commission's recommendation.

    State Judicial Law 183-a links judicial salaries with county district attorneys'
    (DA's) salaries, requiring DA's salaries to be equal or higher than either the
    County Court Judge or Supreme Court Judge in a county, depending on full or
    part-time status.

    "This is unprecedented," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.
    "For over 50 years, the state has paid for every DA salary increase mandated
    on counties. It has always been a fundamental issue of fairness. The state has
    historically funded these salary increases through the state budget."

    On April 1, 2016 the State adopted a budget that is over $150 billion statewide,
    but did not include the approximately $1.6 million for counties to fund the DA
    salary increases. Interestingly, the state also did not include a general fund
    allocation for the judges' salaries, forcing those raises to come out of the
    Judiciary budget.

    The raise will cost each county approximately $30,000.00 in funds not
    allocated from their 2016 county budgets - a cost of approximately 1/3 of their
    total allowable property tax cap growth for all government operations in 2016.

    "This was an unintended consequence of the demands of meeting an on-time
    budget, and it can be fixed with a simple chapter amendment that can be
    passed when lawmakers return in May," said Cherry.  
    Lewis County Manager Elizabeth Swearingin did not respond to our request for
    comment on this story.
State Mandate Increases Lewis County DA's Salary to $183K Per Year
04/27/16 02:30pm  Updated 3:30pm
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