EARLVILLE – The Earlville village mayor is calling for action on deadlocked contract negotiations between Chenango County law enforcement and county executives that he says are putting the safety of his village at risk.
Mayor William Excell is pleading for county officials to reach an agreement with Chenango County law enforcement that he hopes will coax officers to stay on staff. Being the only village in the county without its own police department, Earlville is hurting from a shortage of sheriff’s deputies.
Excell says the best way to fix the problem is ratification of a new contract for deputies that makes pay more competitive with surrounding counties.
The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement division has been nine years without a renewed contract.
“We rely on Madison and Chenango County sheriffs,” said Excell, noting that his village is split between the Chenango-Madison boarder. “I think they’ve been going long enough without a contract. It’s affecting Earlville, and the county board can’t sit back and do nothing more about it. Let’s be a little more competitive with what other counties are paying. Let’s pass a contract to get them a little more money.”
The deputies’ contract has undergone three consecutive arbitration judgements which guarantee a raise for law enforcement, the most recent being signed just last week. But the Sheriff’s Office still lacks competitive pay, since the latest judgement addresses only the 2014-2015 year. Wages are now three years behind those in surrounding counties.
“Contract negotiations have been an ongoing issue,” said Sheriff Ernest Cutting. “We’ve had times when (proposed) contracts come through and people see a light at the end of the tunnel. Then when negotiations start, it generally hurts moral. People start questioning when and if raises are coming, and they start looking for other jobs.”
Cutting hopes to bring negotiators back to the table and reach a deal before the latest arbitration judgment expires in 2020. Right now, it’s typical that an officer hired and trained as a Chenango County deputy leaves after a short stint with the department for places like Madison or Broome counties, where pay is $16,000 to $18,000 more per year.
The pay difference is too big to entice officers to stay, he said.