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Essex supervisors mull last-minute cuts

"I could not support the [2010] budget because it had across-the-board 4.25 percent increases, and I cannot support this now," said Preston. "I think 4.25 percent for anybody in this economy is wrong and that's how I'm going to vote."

Ferebee motioned to instead increase the department head salaries by two percent, a proposal that had first been approved at a Nov. 25 budget workshop, but was not adopted as part of the 2010 budget.

Politi and Morency said two percent would be more in line with raises scheduled for most town employees this year, and Ferebee said it was fair considering that county supervisors agreed to take no increase in pay.

County Manager Dan Palmer said lower raises for certain county employees "just doesn't make sense," as non-union employees have traditionally been given the same raises as those belonging to the union. Newcomb Supervisor George Canon agreed, but was the only one to vote against the proposal; and it passed.

A second resolution applying the 4.25 percent raises to all management-confidential employees was also struck down with Politi, Ferebee, Preston, and Randy Douglas (D-Jay) voting against it.

Douglas instead suggested a revision of the resolution that would set department head raises at two percent, while other management-confidential employees received the full 4.25 percent. Politi proposed an amendment that would extend the two percent raise to any making more than $50,000 annually.

Palmer and Canon argued against the two percent raises, saying they would allow some unionized workers to receive higher pay than their supervisors.

"You're asking a certain group to fall on the sword when nobody else has to do so," Palmer said. "I don't think it's well planned out; I think it's poorly done."

Both Dedrick and Westport Supervisor Dan Connell expressed concern with changing what supervisors had already determined at previous meetings.

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