Essex supervisors mull last-minute cuts

ELIZABETHTOWN - The explosives on the Champlain Bridge were not the only fireworks on display the morning of Dec. 28.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors held their End of Annual meeting, which started at roughly the same time the bridge was blown apart by explosives.

Four supervisors were initially absent from the meeting as they attended the bridge's demolition, and their absence cleared the way for a last-minute effort to undo spending plans.

However, that effort ultimately failed to change any prior decisions.

At the heart of the debate were two resolutions establishing 2010 salaries for non-union county employees, also referred to as management-confidential. Nearly all the positions were set to receive a 4.25 percent raise, based on the percentage granted to unionized employees in their negotiations.

But as St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency pointed out, many of the elected and appointed officials mentioned in the first resolution have salaries much higher than unionized employees.

"When you take salary as large as theirs compared to some of the lower ones, that is a fairly decent wage increase," said Morency, suggesting the county could save money by trimming the percentage back for department heads.

The same argument had been posed at previous committee meetings, but support for the full raises prevailed, led heavily by Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava.

"His feeling and mine is, being as we have planned to put a committee in place to look at each and every department head salary, that this would suffice," said Ticonderoga Supervisor Rob Dedrick, referring to plans to establish a three-to-five-year salary schedule for management-confidential employees.

Scozzafava was absent, however, as were Cathy Moses (R-Schroon Lake), Dale French (R-Crown Point), and Robert Dobie (D-North Hudson). All had previously voted in favor of the full raises.

Their absences counted as 'no' votes at the End of Annual meeting. That, combined with the 'no' votes of Morency, Lori Lincoln-Spooner (R-Willsboro), Roby Politi (R-Lake Placid), Bill Ferebee (R-Keene), and Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), amounted to enough weighted vote to defeat the first resolution.

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