The shell game involved in giving Lewis County Manager David Pendergast a raise continues. Last night the Lewis County Board of Legislators voted to rescind the $10,000.00 raise they gave him two weeks ago and voted to give what amounts to a $6,500.00 raise instead.
At first glance it would be easy to say good, at least it isn't as much as when we started, but when we look at how this raise is being established and the reasoning (or lack thereof) behind it, the whole process appears arbitrary and certainly unsubstantiated.
Two weeks ago we were told that the County Manager deserved the raise because of extra duties associated with the IT department and the new Public Transportation Department. The entire $10,000.00 raise was put on the Budget Officer position, even though the Budget Officer work is considered part of the County Manager's duties. Further, both the IT Department and the Public Transportation Department have people that head up those departments.
Now, two weeks later, the County Manager no longer needs $10,000.00, he needs $6,500.00.
Now, two weeks later, the Public Transportation Department is no longer part of the equation.
Now, two weeks later, the County Manager's position is being raised $3,750.00.
Now, two weeks later, the County Manager is getting $2,750.00 more for heading up the IT Department when there is already a person that heads up that department.
Just like two weeks ago, the current $6,500.00 raise is unbudgeted.
Just like two weeks ago, Department Heads are being asked to go without raises this year.
Just like two weeks ago, union employees are being asked to work five hours per week more for the same pay... and just like two weeks ago the rest of us are still facing tough economic pressures.
This whole thing wreaks of either slight of hand or a poorly thought out plan. The slight of hand
is obvious. Don't put it in the budget, wait until the last meeting of the year and hope nobody notices. Oops! Somebody noticed! Now, lower the numbers somewhat, juggle the titles, create a little confusion and hope everybody thinks they've won when we're still getting stiffed for $6,500.00.
When it comes to poorly thought out plans, this board takes the cake. Remember the big 52 job cut budget panic that they reversed themselves on? How about the Mental Health and Alcohol Clinic privatization plans that didn't work out, and of course the planned closing of the Transfer Station in Croghan under false pretenses? These are just the badly thought out plans we've been fortunate enough to have had changed. Other bad plans still exist like our permit based ATV system that has county taxpayers, when it comes to liability, exposed like a colonoscopy patient.
A raise? Folks when we look at the performance of this Board, and the County Manager is their point man, from a citizen's perspective a raise shouldn't even be on the table.
We have a shell game on the table, the hands are moving faster and the taxpayers better be paying close attention.