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Binghamton proposes cutting code positions, adjusting salaries

 Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham's administration is proposing increasing salaries for the code enforcement office, while defunding newly created positions.
Vaughn Golden
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham's administration is proposing increasing salaries for the code enforcement office, while defunding newly created positions.

Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham campaigned on hiring more code enforcement investigators, but city officials are realizing some other changes need to be made first.

Kraham pushed to add new code inspector positions, among other changes, meant to address dilapidated and unsafe housing in the city. But a little over a year later, those positions have yet to be filled.

Chris Schleider, who oversees the code department, asked city council last month to defund two code inspector positions and use those funds to bump salaries elsewhere in the department, to be more in line with other municipalities.

Schleider said the lower salaries have made it impossible to fill positions and retain qualified individuals in them.

"We're looking at fewer applicants for the positions that we have advertised, fewer to none, extremely high turnover rate," Schleider told city council last month. "Retention has become almost impossible. We've recruited people whose skillsets did not align with the needs of the department and have had to ask people to vacate the positions. We've had highly qualified people who've accepted the position only to vacate it only within a short amount of time because they've found that they couldn't live on the wage and the demands of the job were not commensurate with the salary that's being offered."

The raises are around 16% to 23% for all employees in the code enforcement office. According to figures provided by the city, the lowest paid inspector currently makes just under $35,000 per year. Under the newly proposed raises, that would be raised to around $43,000 per year.

Kraham said the raises were pushed as part of ongoing salary studies being conducted by CSEA, a public sector union representing the code department. Kraham said he agrees that the salary component should be addressed before the city tries moving forward, expanding the code enforcement office.

“It's something that we'll continue to work on,” Kraham said. “Again, if you have unfilled positions, but you have them in the budget on paper. That doesn't mean that they're out there in the field.”

The measure could go before city council for approval as soon as next week.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.