Enraged over job cuts, county workers march in protest

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 June 10 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 Chairman Fred Monroe that would have hiked the sales tax from seven to eight percent. Both Stec and the Post-Star opposed the hike, and both have called for cuts in county expenditures.

Monroe estimated that roughly $16 million would be raised annually from the hike, which would have relieved the local property tax burden by one-third besides easily covering the looming 2010 budget gap. Also, half of the sales tax is paid by those visiting the county, which has one of the lowest prevailing sales tax rates.

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