Council members agree to pay cut

WEVERTOWN The 2009 budget for the Town of Johnsburg took a formal step forward last week following a board decision to take a five percent pay cut. In an effort to settle a concern raised by Councilman Stevens over a $2,000 disparity between the towns regular $10,000 contribution to the North Country Outreach Center and a new $12,000 budget code to support the North Creek Railway Depot Museum, board member Ron Vanselow moved to have the board take a five percent reduction in pay. The resolution passed unanimously and was applauded by audience members. The payroll savings to the town would be incorporated in the towns contingency fund, which was already substantially increased for 2009, largely in anticipation of a financially challenging year for the Outreach Center. Prior to the vote to reduce their compensation, each board member earned $4,365 per year. Supervisor Goodspeed matched the cut with an additional two percent from his $23,700 salary, bringing his total reduction to five percent. Rumors of turmoil within the Johnsburg Emergency Squad came to light this week as two letters to the board were read. In a letter dated Oct. 30, JEMS Acting Chairman, Mark Bergman, reassured Goodspeed and the board that the organization has been fulfilling its obligation to the Town and will continue to do so despite concerns to the contrary. The squad has encountered some internal personnel issues, the letter said. However our operation has not skipped a beat. We are meeting all of our contractual obligations to the town. We are fully staffed and our duty schedule is completely covered. A second (unsigned) letter dated Nov. 5, from Concerned Johnsburg EMS Volunteers, provided a significant list of concerns, including an allegation that any volunteer who has had a voice in the last two months and not in agreement with the current board is being shut down. The letter further discussed the exceptional response rate of the organization since 2004 but stated, Currently, we have missed two calls in three weeks. We are concerned with the direction the squad is headed under the current Board of Directors and Asst. Captain, the letter continued. Volunteers help cover many first calls, mainly in the evening hours. However, if we lose any of them, it may make it harder to get the ambulance off the floor, unless the board pays staff in place of those volunteers, which will cost more money. Reiterating a concern that Johnsburg EMS volunteers are being pushed out in favor of paid staff - the letter asked for a meeting between the volunteers and Supervisor Goodspeed. In response to the letter, Goodspeed vowed to continue with a position of neutrality in regards to the EMS squad unless the town observed a decline in service or a contractual failure. I have described what I believe the towns position is - which is Switzerland, he said. In other words, we are neutral but highly concerned because we fund this entity for a particular provision of service and we want to make sure they are able to provide those services. Goodspeed further stated that he was willing to discuss the issue with any of the concerned parties and the board would be keeping a close eye on the squads effort toward a resolution. In other business, discussions with a regional cellular tower developer have resumed after a long hiatus. Town officials have vowed to keep the dialog open with the intent of installing a tower behind the transfer station in North Creek. After several community sessions and considerable public input, the Elan Planning and Design North Creek Riverfront Redevelopment proposal has been made public. The plan was not presented to the board in time for review at this meeting but Supervisor Goodspeed promised to discuss it at the Nov. 18 board meeting. The next regular meeting of the Johnsburg Town Board will be Tuesday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., in the Johnsburg Town Library.

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