Politicians generally aren’t known for being frugal when it comes to taxpayer money and, when they are, they let it be known.
But Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry voluntarily — and quietly — cut his salary by 25 percent this year and last year.
Instead of taking home $100,338 as he could, the sheriff has been paid about $75,000 on an annual basis.
If he continues to do that throughout his four-year term, he will forgo $100,000 in salary.
Barry, a Democrat who took office last year, said the money could be better used within his cash-strapped department.
“That was a personal choice and not really for the public to know about,” Barry said when pressed on the issue this week.
The pay cut came to light after the Beacon Journal reported that County Executive Russ Pry has provided 10 percent raises to three of his top administrators while other county workers were getting raises of 1.5 percent or less.
All the executive’s cabinet members now make $111,280 a year — more than the regular pay for the sheriff.
Barry, who started his law enforcement career with the sheriff’s office in 1979, said he decided to take a pay cut for several reasons, including that he had to retire to run for the position and already is collecting his public pension.
The department also continues to face budgetary constraints and has 100 fewer workers than in 2008, he said. His salary reduction helped to pay for another member of his cabinet.
“I just try to do what’s best for my agency,” said Barry, who has pushed for a 0.25 percent increase in the county sales tax to better fund his office and jail operations in particular.
Other sheriff’s administrators who accepted positions last year also are making less money than their predecessors, and Barry said he deserves no special credit.
He cited Jail Administrator Greg Macko as an example.
Macko, a former municipal court judge, is making $76,128, compared with $94,182 paid to his predecessor.
Stephen Brooks, associate director at the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, said there are rare instances of politicians giving up their salaries, and most of them were independently wealthy.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, declined his annual pay and took a token $1 salary instead.
“I don’t sense that the sheriff is in that category,” Brooks said. “I don’t have any recollection of a regular old guy or gal saying, ‘I’m going to cut my pay.’ ”
The pay cut probably will endear the sheriff with taxpayers.
Barry received positive publicity last year when he took office and revealed he had no immediate plans to put his name on county buildings or equipment because the changeover would cost too much money.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.