Dan Hust | Democrat
TEAMSTERS REPRESENTATIVE LOU Setren was the only speaker in support of the proposed 2009 budget as-is. County Manager David Fanslau listens at right.
Legislators get an earful from a handful
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO A short but impassioned public comment period Thursday echoed the two dozen emails the Sullivan County Legislature has received regarding County Manager David Fanslau’s proposed $192 million budget.
“I’m ready to chew you up and spit you out,” warned Bethel resident Manny Safer, who proceeded to rather gently chastise county officials for letting people go while giving non-union managers their duties along with double-digit-percentage raises.
That became the theme of the hearing, which will be repeated at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Government Center in Monticello.
“Everybody deserves a raise, but this is just not the time,” pressed Monticello resident Norton Hyman.
“I think you should go back and rethink all these raises,” agreed Grahamsville resident Ken Walter, pointing out that County Clerk Dan Briggs, in office for a year, is being given a raise to match Treasurer Ira Cohen’s salary, even though Cohen has served for five years.
Out of a paltry five speakers, the lone voice in favor besides legislators’ was Teamsters representative Lou Setren, who noted that, to keep pace with just cost-of-living increases over the past 10 years, union members would have needed an across-the-board 20 percent raise.
And, he explained, what raises union members did receive were contractually matched to the raises management/confidential (non-union) employees got a condition introduced in the just-approved contract.
“[We] agree that a delicate balance has been struck here,” he said, lamenting that many union workers still could qualify for social services benefits at their rates of pay causing too many to leave after having been trained at county expense. “These adjustments will help compensate for that problem.”
Legislators are due to vote on whether or not to approve the tentative budget this Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Government Center.