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Essex County should switch to legislators

Editorial

That means Essex County’s 18 supervisors made $312,000 more in 2012 than Franklin County’s 19 part-time supervisors.

Then, at the county level, the seven members of the Franklin County Board of Legislators made $108,000 last year compared to $319,137 in Essex County — a difference of $211,137.

Combine those two numbers and Essex County’s 18 supervisors cost more than half a million dollars more last year than Franklin County’s 19 supervisors and seven legislators, with 12,000 fewer residents. Franklin County has 51,579 residents compared to Essex County’s 39,302.

Add to that the cost of benefits both at the town and county for 18 people and the final tally no doubt pushes that number closer to $1 million annually.

We’ve heard the arguments in favor of a board of supervisors. Some believe the constituent service is better with a full-time, accessible town supervisor and officials argue that the county interaction with towns is better under the current governing body.

But as a taxpayer, you have to ask yourself: Is it worth a million dollars more out of pocket each year?

Under a board of legislators, each town would still be represented locally by a part-time supervisor, as well as a town board. Residents would still be represented by a legislator at the county level.

That’s better representation for less money, if you ask us.

But don’t take our word for it — ask the 44 counties in New York that are already under a legislative form of government. Ask them if they miss the cost and bickering associated with a board of supervisors and a weighted vote.

Making both the legislator and supervisor positions part-time also would open them to a different slate of candidates like people who might like to serve but are unable to do so in a full-time capacity.

Local government truly began to go awry when the positions started to evolve into an occupation instead of an opportunity to serve your community.

Our supervisors should act now and not allow their own job security to cloud their judgement over what is best for the county.

Faced with an unprecedented financial mess heading into the year ahead, we can think of a number of ways one million dollars could benefit local towns and the county above paying the salaries of 18 politicians.

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