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Board split on pay raises

He specifically requested the salary for the emergency services director to remain the same in light of emergency services deputy Donald Jaquish provisionally taking over the position following the retirement of Ray Thatcher just a few weeks ago. The board voted in favor of that proposal, keeping the salary for that position at its 2008 level of just under $71,000.

Elizabethtown Superisor Noel Merrihew went further, proposing an amendment that would remove raises for all positions listed in the resolution.

Essex Supervisor Ron Jackson was the first to speak against the proposal, noting that some union employees could end up making more than their supervisors if management positions weren't given the same 3.95 percent raise.

"We need to look at where we can cut positions, not cut everybody's salary...," said Westport Supervisor Dan Connell. "I know these salaries look large to many people, but if you look at what we're asking for qualifications of the people receiving these salaries, that's the salary we need to pay."

"If we were raising property taxes, I might feel differently about this...," said Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. "As long as we have a zero percent property tax increase, I'm going to support these raises."

According to County Manager Daniel Palmer, freezing department head salaries would only reduce spending by about $79,000, and the tax levy would remain the same as the raises were already written into the county budget for 2009.

"Raises aren't just about the money," said Palmer, "it's recognition that you did your job well."

Merrihew noted that freezing the salaries of all non-union employees may cut spending by much more, however.

"With all that's happening in Albany, we are going to shoulder a lot more than we shouldered last year," said Merrihew, "and the people that are paying our salaries and their salaries are going to shoulder a lot of it."

Scozzafava said that although cutting out the raises would not affect the tax levy, it would add to the county's fund balance. Ticonderoga Supervisor Robert Dedrick also spoke in favor of freezing the salaries in light of the current recession.

The amendment failed as Scozzafava, Dedrick, and Merrihew were the only supervisors to vote in favor of it, though their weighted votes represented 844 of the 1422 needed to pass.

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