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Whose money is it anyway?

September 4, 2009 - John Stack

The counties of Montgomery, Otsego and Schoharie have a public authority called MOSA. It is their solid waste management authority. Gilbert Chichester has been the executive director since 1993. Up until last Thursday, his salary was $73,000. The MOSA board decided they could no longer go in the direction that Chichester was going. So what did they do? They gave the retirement package of all retirement packages for public servants to make him go away. They retroactively increased his salary for the last 3 years to $95,000 for 2006, $105,000 for 2007 and $115,000 for 2008. As a taxpayer in one of these 3 counties, I would be steaming mad, as the authority is spending over $100,000 to get rid of someone, who even his detractors say he knows the solid waste business inside and out better than most. (It’s a ‘different direction they want to go in’). But it is actually much worse for the rest of us. The reason they did this was to blatantly increase his retirement pension. He will now be drawing a pension higher than any actual salary that he earned while working! Lets say he live another 25 years. That means he will be collecting an extra $500,000-$750,000 in pension than he was truly deserving of. One board member, Martha Clarvoe said the board researched pay for other executives with Chichester’s responsibilities and experience to come up with ‘the proper range’. “In the long run, we are better off when we pay people fairly”. How about that. This guy has voluntarily worked for the salary he had for 16 years. If he felt he was under-compensated, he could have left for greener pastures. But he TOOK the job for this salary, and stayed 16 years! As for being better off when people are paid fairly – the guy is LEAVING! This argument only works when you are trying to entice someone to work for you, or to stay working for you. Not to get someone to leave. The problem is that we taxpayers are on the hook for this pension. And we seem to have no recourse to this travesty.

 

Why is it that public boards can’t seem to get along, so they just choose to use the taxpayers money to get their way? There is a reason board have chairmen and board members. In this instance, the board wanted to get their way, so they bought off the opposition – with our money! Politics and public boards are contentious places. They are not for the weak of heart or those without the ability to work together.

 

Lake Placid School is going thru the same thing right now. The superintendent seemingly resigned a couple months ago. Oh, but we didn’t realize the LPCS taxpayers are still on the hook for his 100K plus compensation plan, plus the cost of paying Ernie Stretton a per diem of 400 a day, the cost of a search for a new superintendent and then the compensation package for a new superintendent. All because the board ‘wanted to go in a different direction’. Once again, it’s the taxpayers’ money wasted because the board couldn’t see eye-to-eye with a superintendent. Is the job of superintendent so complex and the board so unable to work with the superintendent that over $100,000 of taxpayer dollars is spent to make their life easier? And it was supposedly an amicable split, mutually agreed upon. (I guess if I was given $100,000 plus all bennies to leave a job that I wasn’t going to be reappointed to in a year, I would be quite amicable too!)

What irks me the most is that this isn’t the board’s money. It’s the taxpayer’s money. In the case of Lake Placid, this money amounts to probably 2 new teachers. If the budget comes around and they have to let people go, or cut programs, we can see where the  money went that should have been used on actual school resources. Or in the case of MOSA, there are thousands of small grants and such distributed throughout the state. This just means that either the taxpayers of New York have to pay for the MOSA board’s inability to work together or see that we are in a recession and that its not free money, or many deserving grants will be stopped. And a lot of these grants are good (for say food pantries, clean water studies, etc). While much of the pork should be cut, we all know what really happens. Sportsman license fees rise drastically, vehicle registration fees and license fees all increase, to make up for these disconnected seemingly unregulated boards.

 
 

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