Enraged over job cuts, county workers protest at Municipal Center

QUEENSBURY - Infuriated with 24 jobs abolished and more pending, dozens of Warren County employees marched, chanted and yelled protests in front of the county Municipal Center Wednesday as supervisors discussed further budget cuts inside. The cuts come at a time when the county faces a $6.3 million deficit in 2010 budget.

"The big picture escapes the county supervisors," Warren County Probation Department employee and local CSEA president Mark Murray said. "All they care about is their piece of the pie."

Murray said that the 24 job cuts and the dozens more firings on the horizon are a disgrace and will only work to hurt county services.

"Social services case workers are already working flat out," Murray said. "This is going to only put even more people into unemployment lines."

Facing the pending 2010 budgetary deficit, county supervisors have slashed the number of employees across the board and funding for numerous outside service-based agencies.

Supervisors said that they are ready to renegotiate CSEA contracts, seeking reduced benefits, wages and incentives.

"Come down and see the people whose lives you are trying to destroy," a protester said through a megaphone, his voice intruding on the board's cost-cutting discussions inside the municipal center.

Local power brokers like Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec and the Post-Star editorial board were the focus of much of the anger.

Last month, the county board killed a proposal by Warren County Board of Supervisors Fred Monroe that would have hiked the sales tax from seven to eight percent. Both Stec and the Post-Star openly opposed to the hike.

Monroe estimated that roughly $16 million would be raised annually from the hike.

"They should have at least considered the sales tax increase," Murray said. "Spread the heartache around instead of putting squarely on the backs of the little guys."

Murray said that the CSEA believes that the labor force should be spared and cuts should instead come from management.

"From the supervisors perspective, we are really trying to minimize the human impact," Stec said.

But the CSEA doesn't agree with the approach.

"Seems like the work force always gets blamed for these things," Saratoga County CSEA president Ron Revers - who came in support of the march - said. "We are the one's out in snow storms and working in the nursing homes."

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