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Legislature adjusts DA's office salaries

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — July 6, 2010 — In an interesting twist, Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell asked – and got – legislators to agree to increasing some of his assistant DA’s salaries, whilst at the same time reducing others’.
Calling the current salary structure for his seven ADAs “not appropriate,” Farrell said the adjustments are necessary to retain his topmost staff – and in the end, actually reduce that line item in the county’s budget by $360.
But to do so, three ADAs will have their salaries actually reduced by between $1,210 and $4,980. Two others will see no change, while another two will enjoy increases between $3,480 and $3,780.
Those seeing no change or reductions are mostly people who’ve been with the DA’s office less than six months, said Farrell.
Those getting increases are his more experienced staff, though he did not agree with Legislator Kathy LaBuda’s characterization of the increases as raises.
“I’m not increasing salaries ... for no reason,” he said, stating that his top ADA, K.C. Garn, recently retired, adding to the duties of others.
Plus, he wanted to ensure they wouldn’t head off to more lucrative private practices.
“I’m not saying they would leave,” Farrell explained. “[But] I know one of them has an offer.”
Farrell mostly earned praise from legislators, who liked his proactive and money-saving pitch.
“I really think this was a brilliant approach,” lauded Legislator Jodi Goodman. “And his staff supports this.”
Only LaBuda was uncertain, noting the county’s looming $9 million deficit and potential layoffs.
“I kept this modest because of that concern,” replied Farrell.
But LaBuda pointed out that other staff – like nurses and secretaries – did not get raises in the past year, and both she and County Manager David Fanslau worried that legislators’ doors will be pounded by employees who want similar treatment.
“Is the Legislature going to allow the rest of the departments to do the same thing?” Fanslau wondered.
“Absolutely,” said Goodman, adding that Farrell’s initiative will be a money-saver.
In the end, the measure passed the Public Safety Committee unanimously. It now goes on to the full Legislature for approval on July 15.

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