Board approves raises

Managers and confidential employees will share raises totaling about $120,000 Jan. 1. The subject was the center of a heated debate at a special meeting of the Madison County Board of Supervisors Sept. 6 and would have met certain failure had it not been for the vote of Supervisor John M. Becker (Sullivan), who carries the greatest number of votes under the county's weighted voting system.

Government Operations Committee Chairman David Puddington (Eaton) brought forth the resolution at the board of supervisors' regular meeting Sept. 12. The measure calls for a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase with a 1 percent additional hike, or "step," for management and confidential staff who had a performance appraisal completed in 2005.

New hires during the past year would be ineligible for the 1 percent hike.

"I've opposed these raises for several reasons, but one of the main ones is the number of plants being closed in the area," said Supervisor Donald Behr (Oneida Wards 4, 5 and 6). "This is not the time to be raising our employees."

Behr said percentage-based raises create a bigger pay disparity among employees. He said he preferred the county decide upon a figure to spend on raises, then split the amount equally among all employees.

"I'm also voting against it," said Supervisor James Goldstein (Lebanon). "The largest growth of jobs is in the public sector, and I have to wonder how the private sector can continue to support this trend. I have a hard time justifying this kind of raise with these kinds of benefits."

Supervisor Michel DeBottis (Oneida Wards 1, 2 and 3) also said he would vote against the raises.

"It's disproportionate to the raises seen in the incomes of our constituents," DeBottis said. "It's time to put teeth into the performance appraisal process and demand excellence. Why should people get the same raise if they show up and breathe or work their tail off for the county? There's no incentive."

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