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

Lynn McDonald, the 911 database technician for Sullivan County, works at her desk inside the Government Center in Monticello. Come February 28, she may be out of a job.

County employee fears consequences of her layoff

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — February 15, 2011 — As the February 28 enactment of county government layoffs nears, county and union officials continue to negotiate the fates of 14 employees.
Lynn McDonald is one of them, and she plans to be “basically begging for my job” at this Thursday’s full Legislature meeting (2 p.m. in the Government Center).
“I feel as hard as it is for me personally,” the Forestburgh resident said, “this is a public safety issue.”
McDonald is the county’s Senior Database/E-911 Research Technician, tasked with keeping the 52,000 addresses in the 911 database accurate and up-to-date.
Her work ensures ambulances and fire trucks reach the correct residences and businesses, that citizens can gain phone, Internet and insurance services, and that restaurants, for example, can obtain liquor licenses.
She’s spent nine of her 12 years with the county in this position, first under Planning, now under Real Property Tax Services.
“I love what I do,” McDonald affirmed. “I’m helping people.”
In 2010, she answered 1,400 calls and 620 voicemails. Sometimes those callers were eager to vent their anger on her, having often been shuffled from one agency to another in their quest to resolve address discrepancies.
But they couldn’t stay angry. Usually, McDonald could fix their problems with a few keystrokes, thanks to her ability to make changes to Verizon’s Master Street Address Guide (MSAG).
“There isn’t anybody else in the county that has access to MSAG,” she pointed out.
She also coordinated with government agencies up and down the ladder, from villages and townships to the feds.
“She has been the one we could depend on,” affirmed Delaware Town Supervisor Jim Scheutzow. “She was just so helpful.”
McDonald’s focus these days is squarely on county leaders, specifically legislators.
“They’re the ones who put me out of a job,” she said.
She doesn’t blame the unions, including Teamsters Local 445, of which she’s a member.
“I agree with the unions 100 percent,” McDonald said. “I’m not thrilled about losing my job, but I think it’s about time we stood up for ourselves.”
She firmly believes that there’s money to be found to honor the four percent raises and longevity bonuses the county guaranteed when it signed union employee contracts in 2008.
“There are a lot of places they can look,” she said, pointing out that the Boys and Girls Club’s $60,000 contract this year could pay her salary for the next two years.
“I would be the last one to say ‘raise taxes,’ but I would gladly have paid a one or two percent raise to keep the positions,” she added.
At 61, McDonald isn’t sure she could find other employment in the area, and she and her retired husband depend on the health benefits her job provides.
“And not to get up and come here every day is going to be emotionally devastating,” she affirmed.
Indeed, she doesn’t plan to take the 33 days of sick leave the county owes her.
“I’m giving that up because the work is too important,” McDonald said. “... And that would have been unprofessional.”
But she did guarantee that “if my job’s not reinstated, I’ll be gone before it’s done.”
Discussions are ongoing between the unions and the county about her and others’ positions, and Teamsters Business Agent Sandy Shaddock expressed some optimism last week.
“I’m hopeful we can save a number of these positions,” Shaddock confirmed. “I don’t think we can save them all.”
If McDonald is laid off, County Manager David Fanslau said her job will be parceled out to the four GIS (Geographic Information System) technicians she trained in the Real Property Tax Services Dept.
While he said McDonald’s job was historically not a specialized position, her absence will undoubtedly carry an impact.
“We don’t have county employees sitting around to be laid off,” he pointed out. “I feel for everybody that has been laid off. It’s why I put forth a plan with no layoffs.”
Nevertheless, he doesn’t think McDonald’s layoff will compromise public safety.
McDonald, obviously, disagreed.
“The GIS techs wouldn’t have a problem doing my job,” she explained. “They would have a problem finding the time to do it.”
Thus address corrections may go unaddressed.
“In a worst-case scenario, somebody is going to die. It’s happened in this county,” McDonald assessed. “The best-case scenario is someone calls up and says they can’t get insurance for their house.
“... The main consequence is, people won’t be served.”

top of page  |  home  |  archives