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Saratoga, Washington, and Warren counties differ on pay raises for essential workers

Mark Mulholland
Updated: March 25, 2020 07:02 PM
Created: March 25, 2020 05:47 PM

BALLSTON SPA -  The word came last week, just after a news conference about Saratoga County's response to the pandemic:
all essential hourly and salaried employees and their supervisors getting an immediate, temporary pay increase of 50-percent.

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Some county supervisors saying they weren't given the details before they gave the approval.

"The decision was made without the input or a vote of the supervisors which is always problematic," said Supervisor Tara Gaston, D - Saratoga Springs.

"Employees who are reporting to work and are working their regular shift, I don't see any reason why we're paying them time and a half," said Supervisor Jon Schopf, R - Clifton Park.

Moreau Town Supervisor Theodore "Todd" Kusniersz says 32 salaried county employees are also getting paid time and a half.

Kusnierz said Wednesday afternoon that he's fully supportive of front-line employees getting an increase, but across the board pay raises in a time of crisis send the wrong message.

"The optics are so poor here, " Kusnierz said by phone. 

Washington County is also paying time and a half to front-line hourly employees, but not to those who are salaried, said County Attorney Roger Wickes.

Warren County, like Albany and Rensselaer counties, is not giving raises. Warren County Administrator Ryan Moore, saying via FaceTime Wednesday that taxpayers can't afford paying more at a time when many are out of work.

"To ask those people to reach into their pocket right now when they're out of work and they don't have the money, to pay us more for our doing our jobs that we took an oath to do, come on."

A statement emailed to NewsChannel 13 Wednesday from Saratoga County's public relations firm concluded, "The county is asking essential employees to go above and beyond a normal workload and they are being compensated in recognition of this extraordinary effort."

Some Saratoga County supervisors, including Schopf, Gaston and Kusnierz, say it's time to scrutinize who's getting paid at what rate. 

"We need to almost look at this at the juncture we're at now, on a case by case basis, or class by class basis, rather than an umbrella type of policy for the whole county," Schopf said.


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