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Pay freeze proposed for high level county workers

Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature proposed freezing the salaries of the highest paid county employees on Wednesday. The proposal would freeze the salaries at the 2010 level for nearly 400 employees classified as management and professional, and rescind a 2011 pay raise.

In a statement, area Democrats maintained the measure would save the county “hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone.”

“Since taking office, the county executive’s budget has included three previous salary increases (5.1 percent in 2007, 2.5 percent in 2008 and 5.1 percent in 2010) for these management and professional employees,” said Democratic Legislator Saul Maniero. “To say that a fourth additional raise is warranted at this time due to ‘cost of living increases’ when many county employees continue to be compensated at 2003 schedules is inappropriate and misleading to taxpayers.”

Democrats said two officials in the Maggie Brooks administration received even higher raises of up to $20,000 per year.

“Really, we believe that this proposal is purely political propaganda,” said county spokesman Noah Lebowitz.

Lebowitz said merit-based raises have been completely frozen and the county executive has made meaningful cost reduction measures.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Lebowitz said. “If you look at the facts, she has reduced the county work force, reduced health care expenses requiring employees to pay more of it, slashed retirement benefits and kept property taxes flat for the last eight years.”

Democrats did vote to support a 2.5 percent wage increase in January 2009.

The proposal will now be considered by legislature president Jeffrey Adair to determine whether it will be referred to a vote of the legislature.

“There is absolutely no reason to give these political appointees such significant pay hikes at a time when frontline workers are being laid off,” said Democratic minority leader Ted O’Brien. “Taxpayers expect us to be responsible financial stewards and this proposal helps this county meet the public’s expectations.”

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