Franklin County board turns down sheriff’s employee contract

In a 4-3 vote Thursday, the Franklin County Board of Legislators rejected a contract for employees of its sheriff’s office.

Voting no at the special meeting in Malone were legislators Tim Burpoe, D-Saranac Lake; Paul Maroun, R-Tupper Lake; Gordon Crossman, D-Malone; and Sue Robideau, R-Brushton.

Voting yes to the contract were board Chairman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay; Marc “Tim” Lashomb, R-Malone; and Guy “Tim” Smith, D-Fort Covington.

The contract would have covered the United Public Service Employees Union’s 66 local members from 2012 to 2015. The two sides will now seek a fact finder’s recommendation.

The sticking point was proposed pay raises, especially the inclusion of extra “location pay” due to the dangerous circumstances deputies and corrections officers work under. The contract would have saved the county some money by switching the union to a different health insurance plan, but those savings would have been eaten up by raises that, with the hazard pay, totaled year-by-year increases of 3.3 percent, 4 percent, 4 percent and 4.5 percent.

“I can’t do that to my people,” Crossman, whose district reaches as far south as the town of Brighton, told the Enterprise Thursday. He said raises of that size are out of line with other fields of work in the current economy, and the county is in a tight spot financially.

“It was a tough decision,” he added.

Burpoe, Maroun and Robideau similarly said the raises were too high, according to reports in the Malone Telegram and Press-Republican newspapers.

Phil Sedlock, representing the union, reportedly said he thought the offer was fair. He added that these workers haven’t had a raise in 20 months and that they are some of the state’s lowest-paid corrections officers.

Sheriff’s office employees in Franklin County mostly run the jail. Deputies also transport inmates and check up on registered sex offenders.