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County’s fiscal hawks delay plan for salary increases


HUDSON–The county Board of Supervisors voted last week on resolutions involving proposed pay and salary grade increases for county workers, and while some passed, many did not.

The proposal for Local Law 1, establishing the salaries of certain county officers, drew comments from Ancram Supervisor Arthur Bassin (D) that resulted in several proposed salary increases being tabled for 30 days to give the board time to review county’s finances.

Mr. Bassin said at the July 10 meeting that the board’s Finance Committee has been conducting an analysis of county finances for 18 months and though the Salary Committee proposed a list of wage increases nine months ago, supervisors want to evaluate the impact of federal sequestration of funds. “I propose that the supervisors look at the list again and get a financial presentation on both the 2012 and year-to-date 2013 financials to make sure we have enough money to pay.”

Hillsdale Supervisor Arthur Baer (R) appeared to echo Mr. Bassin’s comments. “We are about to authorize raises and we don’t know the cash situation or whether or not we may have to borrow…. It seems prudent to get that information before we vote on incremental increases.”

Gallatin Supervisor Thomas Garrick (R) said that supervisors had received the salary proposals that day. “Probably the raises are justified, but based on comments of Supervisors Bassin and Baer, we have to look at the county’s finances,” he said.

Some supervisors saw a brighter side, with Stuyvesant Supervisor Ronald Knott (R) thanking board Chairman Patrick Grattan(R-Kinderhook) for “efforts in collecting additional property tax payments” and Stockport Supervisor Matt Murell (R) noting that the county has saved $40,000 over budgeted salaries. Mr. Murell said that the salary increases “are long overdue.”

Chairman Grattan defended the proposal, saying the raises “are well within the budget, and the budgeted versus actual figures are on the county website, and both the Controller and Treasurer participated, and they gave no indication to the Salary Committee that it was imprudent to pass the raises.”

But Supervisor Baer said the supervisors’ concern about the law came down to the funds available. “We do not yet know what the county’s cash requirements are for the next six to nine months, and we may have to borrow to meet other expenses.”

A roll call vote was taken, and Local Law 1 did not pass. But though the measure was defeated, the discussion continued. After the vote Mr. Baer said, “Whatever actions we take now will be watched by the unions.”

Hudson 4th Ward Supervisor William Hughes (D) responded, “We took careful consideration to understand the effect of union contract negotiations. During the budget process, the [Salary] Committee recognized some workers were grossly underpaid, and we worked to have parity. We budgeted money, and set it aside with the understanding that some haven’t had raises for two to three years. We don’t want to send a message to unions we have money, and this has been set aside.”

Supervisor Bassin clarified what he expected, saying, “I’m just suggesting a formal process to get financial matters on a regular basis to set a prudent, rational and logical strategy, and we need the time to do it. I hate to hold raises hostage, but we need to get a process to better understand the numbers.”

Supervisor Grattan said that the board had already passed spending resolutions that evening that were greater than the amount of the raises.

Mr. Bassin said that what the supervisors want is for the county controller and treasurer to submit monthly balance sheet, income statement and cash flow reports. Both Controller Ron Caponera and Treasurer PJ Keeler noted the extra work it would take to provide the report but agreed to submit monthly cash reports, although the reports may lag by a month or two.

Chairman Grattan announced that year to date, the County has collected $2.8 million in back property taxes, and that the county had budgeted for only $1.5 million by this point. He further noted that back taxes are coming in at the rate of $750,000 per month.

The supervisors also learned that the Pine Haven architecture plans contract has been signed.

The meeting concluded with a request that the board keep Ghent Supervisor Lawrence Andrews in their prayers.



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