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Picente: Wage freeze would save layoffs

By PAT BAILEY

(WKTV) - Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says if the four unions who represent Oneida County workers would accept a wage freeze in 2011, no county employee would be laid off. If not, Picente has proposed laying off 70 employees.

Roughly 1,400 Oneida County workers are scheduled to receive between a 3% and 4% raise in 2011.

Picente says the layoffs or the wage freeze, whichever happens, is necessary to help balance the 2011 county budget. A lack of revenue from both the state and federal governments is leaving the county cash strapped, Picente said.

According to Picente, all four unions have refused a wage freeze so far. The county executive says he doesn't want to let even one county employee go, but continuing to raise taxes is also not the answer.

"The layoffs, as I have continually said were not the preferred option, the preferred option was the wage freeze," said Picente. "It really hampers our ability to deliver services, but with that said we are getting down to the wire."

According to Picente there is still time for the unions to accept a wage freeze and avoid layoffs. All four unions must agree to the compromise, Picente said.

All non-union Oneida County employees will have their wages froze.

Picente says himself, the Comptroller, the Sheriff and the Clerk will all take a pay cut in 2011 because their salary is based on the Consumer Price Index. 

The Oneida County Board of Legislators will receive Picente's 2011 budget proposal Wednesday. They must approve a budget by November 10th.

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