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Armstrong vetoes row office salary increases

According to a news release from Lehigh County on Nov. 22, County Executive Phillips Armstrong has vetoed two commissioners’ bills to increase row officers’ salaries, as required by the Lehigh County Home Rule Charter.

Armstrong said he feels strongly now is not the appropriate time for additional spending on the salaries of elected officials.

“I believe there is a big difference between the paid professionals who run the county and the elected officials who oversee them,” Armstrong said.

“It’s important our managers and employees who make the county operate every day should be compensated fairly.

“But in my opinion, our elected public servants are in a different category.

“I understand the rationale of the board of commissioners is that in order to attract qualified candidates, we must pay an attractive wage.

“As an elected county executive, I am a public servant, as are our row officers. It’s fair we all should receive adequate compensation, but now is not the time.

“I cannot in good conscience sign onto these two pieces of legislation.

“Some commissioners have calculated these increases would only amount to 25 cents per taxpayer. That’s one way of looking at it, but it’s also true to say that it represents a 20-percent increase for row officers and very nearly a 30-percent increase for the county executive.

‘There is just simply no way on earth that I can justify increasing the salary of my own office by a third when so many of our residents are struggling.

“If I signed onto this, I would not be able to look our taxpayers in the eye and tell them ‘It’s only 25 cents,’ as they continue to pay multiples of 25 cents more for everything from home heating oil to gasoline to groceries.”