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December 22, 2011

Your Opinion: December 22, 2011

Salaries too high

Town of Otsego residents, are you aware of what is going on with your town government?

At the Nov. 9 town board meeting the 2012 budget was passed. As you may know, the two sitting town justices did not run for reelection.

Prior to the election the town board took a close look at the salaries (paid by the local taxpayers) of the town justices and realized they were out of line with the rest of the county. Some board members talked about consolidating the town court with the village court to become more efficient.

The two town of Otsego justices were making $16,125 and $12,875 — the highest paid in the  county – serving a population(including the village of Cooperstown) of 3,900 residents. In addition, the village has two judges – one is elected making $6,390 and the other is the appointed “acting” justice making $3,850. A total of four justices (with a payroll of just under $40,000) serving the 3,900 people of the town of Otsego.

By comparison, the town of Oneonta, with a population of 4,994 and the burden of a college student population, has only two judges with salaries of $15,096 and $11,424.

Clearly the town of Otsego has room for consolidation and payroll reduction in its judicial system. This would save the residents substantial tax dollars and make the system more efficient.

At the town board budget meeting, Gary Kuch stated that he and the other newly elected justice would not take the jobs for the salaries passed in the budget.  In a clear move of politicalcronyism, supervisor Kiernan made a motion to increase the already inflated salaries for the justices.

Supervisor-elect Atwell seconded the motion. Councilmen Schallert, Michaels and Wenner thankfully defeated the motion.

The salaries that are in the 2012 budget are $7,500 per judge.

After the vote, supervisor Kiernan said that the new board could raise the salaries after Jan. 1 anyway, and the justices decided to take the jobs with the expectations of their salaries being increased at that point.

Please join me in holding this town board accountable and demand that it stop playing games with our money; stop the political cronyism and do what’s right for the taxpayers and residents of the town of Otsego.

Sheila Ross

Fly Creek

Club says thanks

The Rotary Club of Cooperstown thanks community members for supporting Rotary International’s efforts to rid the world of the polio virus. The $3,000 raised locally in 2011 will help fund immunizations in areas still impacted by this disease.

The effort to eradicate polio is on the verge of success with fewer than 2,000 polio cases reported annually.

We especially acknowledge those organizations that assisted our note card sales to raise funds for this worthy cause: the First Presbyterian Church, the Woman’s Club of Cooperstown and the Cooperstown Art Association. The Rotary Club’s “Cooperstown Note Cards” are still available at Savor New York and the shops at The Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum.

Charles Ellsworth, president,

Rotary Club of Cooperstown