Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives

Dan Hust | Democrat

Sandy Shaddock reads from a statement expressing her concerns with the county’s approach to the wage and layoff issues, while County Manager David Fanslau listens on Thursday.

County layoff notices may come this week

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — February 1, 2011 — Several legislators called Thursday the worst day of their legislative careers.
“Today is one of the saddest days we’ll ever have to experience,” noted Legislator Jodi Goodman just before spending five hours determining where to cut county staff.
“This is my 16th year here,” agreed Legislator Leni Binder. “This is the saddest day I’ve had in government.”
Odds are this week will feature far sadder days for potentially dozens of county employees who are scheduled to get layoff notices.
Officials last week wouldn’t reveal who will be cut, and some employees may escape the ax due to seniority. But Legislator Ron Hiatt blamed the layoffs on unions unwilling to forego a contractually guaranteed four percent raise and associated longevity bonuses.
“Since they didn’t want to – which is their right – it’s time to get down and do what we have to do,” he said to his colleagues Thursday.
That statement, however, hinted at the expectation that grievances filed by the Teamsters Local 445 and NYS Nurses Association unions, arbitration coming with the Laborers Local 17, and a lawsuit from the CSEA Local 1000 – collectively representing about three-quarters of the county’s workforce of 1,100 – will not favor the county.
County leaders have insisted that either a wage/bonus freeze or layoffs are their choices to close a $3.3 million budget gap for 2011.
“I don’t see our other options,” said Legislator David Sager, lamenting the crippling effect of unfunded state mandates. “... We’re all at our breaking point.”
Unions have argued that the county has no choice but to honor the contracts, and Teamsters Business Agent Sandy Shaddock says she’s tried in vain to gain more info and offer alternatives.
She added that county workers have consistently given more in contract negotiations and are unwilling to sacrifice further until the county returns to good-faith negotiations.
County Manager David Fanslau has argued that he continues to hold discussions with unions but that Shaddock “doesn’t have a basic understanding of the county budget.”
He agreed with her that federal Medicaid payments to the county were not included in 2011 budget revenues but added that the $1.3 million those payments free up may be put by legislators toward the fund balance for 2012, which has been used this year to balance the budget.
Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis insisted on Thursday that the county “did not force this on anyone,” but Shaddock pointed out that leaders have, intentionally or not, unfairly made county employees look like the taxpayer’s enemy when the culprits are really the general economic malaise and what she believes is ongoing mismanagement.
Neither are the layoffs a done deal yet. Legislators will formally vote on them by the end of this month – which likely means up to a couple of weeks of intense discussions that could avoid some cuts.
Indeed, those discussions will start at 11:30 a.m. today with an emergency meeting of the Legislature’s Executive Committee, which includes all nine legislators.

top of page  |  home  |  archives