Richard J. Garfunkel
Statement to the County Board of Legislators
December 27, 2005
Good Morning and Best Wishes to all of you in the coming year.
With regards to your consideration of raises reflective of your actions last week, I have a few suggestions for your considerations.
A) The issues of raises should not be taken up after an election and in the last waning days of the session and term. With this action you are relying on the votes of lame-duck members. Also, for sure, new members should not be allowed to get this raise, and in fact, old members should not be allowed to get any raise until the end of the coming term. In other words this body should not be allowed to vote itself new raises. You ran for this current two-year term with the knowledge and proviso regarding the compensation it offered in the job description.
B) By raising your salary to an amount that is commensurate with a % of the private sector, you should therefore be prevented by law from accepting any earned income from other employment or activities. Please take into consideration that this body is by definition non-profit, and non-profits pay lass salaries then are paid in the private sector. If you chose this option this raise would go into effect in January of 2008 with cost of living increases of 2.5% in each year after, unless amended by a future legislature. With regards to amending the 2.5% increases, the Board should do it two years hence or be allowed to increase it before the election of 2008 with the proviso that it will have a predetermined cap.
C) If this body refuses to exclude the right to earn outside income, I recommend that you institute a 6% raise. In this way you would have been able to retroactively increase your salaries for 3% for each of the two years starting in January 2006. This raise would go into effect in year 2008, along with an annual cost of living increase of 2.5% each year until 2010 and beyond. If this current Board wishes to amend the current 2.5 % increases, which would mirror the current rate of inflation, an increase should be recommended and voted on before the election of November 2007. In this way the public maybe be in better position to judge the efficacy of the increase, reflective of inflation. Please understand the 2.5% floor increase would always remain in affect.
In conclusion a majority of you have full-time jobs and through these positions you receive, benefits that include 401Ks, profit-sharing plans, and health benefits. In no way should a full-time employee take benefits from the public sector, which is offered to you from the private sector. It is patently wrong that you should be saving money for you company or yourself and billing the citizens of Westchester County. This is a position of choice and not necessity. You are first a public servant here. With regards to a person that is retired, or chooses to work full-time here, that is your decision. Therefore a retiree should not have health benefits paid once on Medicare. If a person chooses to give up their other positions and work here full-time, please remember you are voluntarily putting in extra hours and should not be compensated for non-funded overtime. If you do not have other health insurance you should be allowed to join the County group plan and be held to whatever rules that an average worker is bound by.
Obviously the cost of government is both necessary and an ongoing burden to the taxpayer. Unfortunately, its need for greater tax increases, are putting greater and greater burdens on our fixed and lower income residents. Private homes do not generate income for its owners. If property taxes, that include onerous school tax increases continue to rise above the rate of inflation, and the ability of a vast amount of our homeowners to raise their compensation continues to be limited, the middle class will be forced to move. As a result will have more gentrification and a greater divide between rich and poor. It is up to you people to be a guardian of the public welfare and needs. Therefore I hope that you will set a strong example of being sensibly frugal and penurious with your selves, and therefore be more able to run this county in a more fiscally secure way.