ELIZABETHTOWN - Tension ran high at the Essex County Board of Supervisors' year end meeting Dec. 30 as officials discussed the approval of pay raises for employees in management positions.
Pointing to a bleak economic recession, a handful of supervisors spoke out against the annual raises, which traditionally have mirrored those given to union employees; set at 3.95 percent for 2009.
Conflict first arose over a resolution reappointing County Manager Daniel Palmer, who was first appointed in August to serve the remainder of Cliff Donaldson Jr.'s term following his resignation.
The resolution included a specific salary for Palmer, who would serve as both county manager and director of information systems. The new salary includes the standard 3.95 percent raise applied to the approximately $109,000 salary he started with in August.
On the basis that Palmer had not served in the position for a full year, Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava moved an amendment to the resolution to eliminate the raise.
The amendment ultimately failed, however, as multiple supervisors spoke in strong support of Palmer and argued that denying the raise would make an unfair example.
"I think we've established a precedent in the past, unfortunately, for these kind of raises," said North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi, noting that any salary freeze should have been brought up initially with Palmer. "Unfortunately we've brought it upon ourselves."
"I'm not saying that any of these people are overpaid, but I'm not going to support this [raise] because of the economic times," said Scozzafava, citing a rise in local job cuts. "I just cannot sit here and represent my constituency and vote the 3.95 percent increases when they're feeling their own pain."
Scozzafava would later propose to amend yet another resolution that outlined specific 2009 salaries for all non-union county employees, including 3.95 percent raises for each.