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Essex supervisors just don't get it

January 18, 2010 - John Stack
This week, the local papers have written about the Essex County Board of Supervisors giving all the department heads raises of 4.25 %! I don’t know why this isn’t a huge bombshell here. This is by far the most generous raise for any municipal workers in our region. And who does it go to? The HIGHEST paid people at the county. The people who can afford it the MOST are getting a HUGE raise! these raises are for people making on average over $60,000. if these employees wont accept any share of the pain. who are they to ask those in much worse financial straits to take cuts. Back in October, the supervisors were discussing the union contract. The union members were getting raises of 4.25. One of the members said it wasn’t as bad as it seemed, as the county had done away with ‘steps’ that often amount to 2-3 percent per year. Unbelievable! So, what he was saying was that no matter how this got sliced, the union members were going to get 4 percent or more. If the step system stayed, that would be 2-3 percent and on top of it a 2 -3 percent raise! In this economic environment! Now to be fair, I am a state employee. I did get step increases in addition to my pay. But, that lasts 7 years. I haven’t had a ‘step’ in 3 years. I still don’t know how the unions ever convinced management to add in these ‘steps’ plus raises. And I do have a 3% or 4% raise due in April. I have also said I am not against reopening my contract for a year of zero percent raises. Why? Not because I think the NYS budget needs to be balanced on the back of the employees, or that NYS employees aren’t worth their raises. I think I could go for zero percent because we have 10% unemployment! I think we in the public sector shouldn’t be getting fat raises (and 4.25% in this economic climate is as fat as it gets).

The supervisors have been arguing for property tax reform for the last few years. It seems like the need for property tax reform is as much because supervisors, school boards, etc. can’t seem to stop themselves from spending. They need a law that forces them to stop their bad ways. They can use a tax cap to make the tough decisions blame it on the law. Maybe this is what we need. right now an unprecedented amount of people are on unemployment or unemployment has run out and they are having troubles paying all there bills including there county taxes make no doubt about it these salary increases will increase everybody’s county taxes at a time when the least amount can afford it.

Moriah supervisor Tom Scozzafava said last fall this was insanity. He was right. If these supervisors continue to pass contract and salary increases that are completely out of whack with reality and completely ignoring the plight of tax payers it would seem to be insanity to continue to vote these guys in year after year. In each of the articles on this subject in the paper it described how tax payers could force a referendum on this. I wish I had the wherewithal and resources to accomplish this I would. I can’t imagine a referendum such as this garnering less than 95% against.


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