Committee shakeup, Sheriff’s contract makes waves among supervisors

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If there was any major takeaway from Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Shipley’s remarks at this week’s meeting — it was that he’s serious about making county government work better.

Last month he was elected chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday he delivered updated committee assignments, which took effect immediately and had an impact on how the rest of the meeting would unfold.

Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro was removed as the Chairman of the Personnel Committee. However, the real surprise came when it was made clear that he was removed from the committee roster completely.

Shipley said, “We have a responsibility to our residents and taxpayers to not only get the job done — but to do so in a way that maximizes our current and future prosperity.”

The Personnel Committee had a meeting scheduled to be held right before the meeting began — but Lazzaro said he cancelled the meeting because the board hadn’t had enough time to review an 11-page contract for the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.

They have been working without a contract for four years.

A testy exchange ensued after the new chairman of the personnel committee called an impromptu meeting to move the contract from committee to a full-board vote.

Waterloo Town Supervisor Gary Westfall was named the new chairman of the personnel committee, who approved the contract for full-board vote.

It would be the last action taken on the night, as the board considered the updated terms. Reaction was mixed from the supervisors.

Varick Town Supervisor Bob Hayssen had concerns over the effectiveness of the new contract. He asked Kathy Corona what the percentage breakdown would be for raises, which he thought appeared to be less than two percent.

According to the contract though, employees will receive a two percent increase with each step through the negotiated system. The only exception to this will be for those who are above step six, which will be considered ‘out of step’ and will receive just a one-half percent raise.

Those under contract will also see retroactive pay for time missed during this prolonged negotiation.

Supervisor Lazzaro said that the board was not given enough time to review the documents. The fiery exchange between Lazzaro and Shipley peaked when the questions about reading expectations arose.

“They had since Friday to read it, but [five days] apparently isn’t enough to read a 10 page document,” Shipley said during a particularly heated moment of the debate.

While some supervisors questioned the urgency of the matter — the contracted employees had been working without a contractor for such a length of time that many felt it was time for action.

One member of the Sheriff’s Department who was in attendance as a member of the audience voiced his relief that a new contract was approved. “It was close,” he said — after the vote and meeting drew to a close.

The contract would ultimately pass with little opposition.

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