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Herkimer County residents attempt to challenge raises for county employees

By PAT BAILEY

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - A group of concerned citizens and one Herkimer County Legislator are gathering signatures to challenge the approved raises of 13 Herkimer County employees.

If the group gets enough signatures, the public will have the opportunity to approve or reject the raises.

The Ways and Means Committee of the Herkimer County Board of Legislators approved the raises in November 2010. The full board approved those raises in December 2010.

Eleven legislators voted for the raise while five voted against it. One legislator, Peter Mano, abstained from voting.

Those who voted against the raises included:

*Helen Rose - Herkimer
*Robert Hyde - German Flatts
*John Brezinski - Frankfort
*Dennis Korce - Danube
*Frederick Shaw -Fairfield

Helen Rose, (D) Herkimer, says that now is not the time for the 13 employees to receive a raise.

"It was the legislators' right to call for a local law and the majority certainly voted for those raises," said Rose. "And it's a citizens right to say 'wait a minute.'"

The 13 county employees who are scheduled to receive a raise are non-union and include:

*Sheriff
*Treasurer
*Clerk
*Commissioner of Social Services
*Highway Superintendent
*Administrator
*Attorney
*Budget Officer
*Auditor
*Property Tax Director
*Election Commissioner
*Personnel Officer/Safety Coordinator
*Coroners (increasing the amount per call )

The 2% raises range from $780 per year for the lowest paid to $1,680 per year for the highest paid.

Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace says he and the rest of the 12 employees did not receive a raise in 2009.

In 2010 only the Personnel Officer/ Safety Coordinator received a raise, Wallace said.

"It is not meant to demean the work and effort of the people, it is the cost to the county," Rose said.

If the group is successful in getting the necessary 2,500 signatures by the end of January, that alone is enough to hold off the raises. The issue would then go up for vote at the next general election.

If the raises are approved, they would be retroactive. If they are voted down, no raise will be given.

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