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Legislators allocate some federal funding for premium pay

By Isabel Braverman
Posted 7/20/21

MONTICELLO – Shouting erupted between legislators and members of the public during the county legislature’s full board meeting on Thursday.

A lengthy discussion on the American Rescue …

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Legislators allocate some federal funding for premium pay

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MONTICELLO – Shouting erupted between legislators and members of the public during the county legislature’s full board meeting on Thursday.

A lengthy discussion on the American Rescue Plan Act funding was taking place.

As previously reported in the Democrat, the county is receiving just over $14.6 million in federal dollars to be distributed in equal parts, half in 2021 and the remaining half in 2022.

At the Management and Budget Committee meeting the week prior, legislators voted to direct that funding to the Department of Public Works (DPW) road paving program and Sullivan County Community College’s capital improvements project.

But some legislators on Thursday took issue with the vote, saying there was no discussion on it.

“I voted for this last week and I think I made a mistake,” Legislator Joe Perrello said. “Maybe we should have had more discussion on this, talked about what we’re going to do with this money. I found out at the last minute.”

After some back and forth, Legislator George Conklin, Chair of the Management and Budget Committee, said, “There’s a huge misrepresentation going on. This went through my committee; you all had this on the Friday prior. Nobody spoke about it at committee when we could have had this discussion.”

Ultimately, Legislator Alan Sorensen suggested a compromise in which $375,000 would be taken from the college’s money and be allocated to premium pay (also called hazard pay) for county essential workers.
The amended resolution passed 6-3, with Chairman Rob Doherty, Legislator Conklin and Legislator Nicholas Salomone voting against it.

Other legislators agreed that employees who worked on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as those at the county’s nursing home and the jail, should receive premium pay.

“We’re sending a message that we care about our employees,” Legislator Ira Steingart said.
But Doherty said they must follow the budgetary process in diverting the federal funding.

“I’m clearly sending the message that we should be financially prudent,” Doherty said. “This is why we overspent our budget three years in a row; you cannot in the budgetary year make these kinds of allocations. It’s not free money.”

Some members of the public, known collectively as the Truth Squad, attended the meeting with signs and called on the legislators to give premium pay.

“Essential workers have helped all of us through the toughest times,” said Liberty resident Martha Scoppa. “We call our essential workers our heroes because they were on the frontlines and were exposed to the greatest health risks.”

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Don

All emergency entities worked on this disease with constant cleaning of the vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and fire houses and etc. These places should be reimbursed for all the cleaning supplies and etc they had to use they didn't have budgeted.

I don't see why the college gets the money since they have a budget along with tuition.

The use of the money is going to be like the Tobacco settlement, it will go everywhere except for what it is for.

Wednesday, July 21