Cut benefits for Harrietstown board, attorney

To the editor:

This is an open letter to all present members and candidates for the Harrietstown town board.

In recent articles in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, it was noted that you are in the beginning stages of working on the town budget and are looking for about $70,000 more in savings to keep it under the tax cap. I applaud you for this.

One area where you could save about $25,000, if my calculations are correct, is in the area of health care for board members and the town attorney. I understand you have two members of the board who do not take the health care benefits and also do not take the $1,200 buyout for not taking it. You have one member who takes the buyout to opt out of health care. The other two board members take the health care benefits (one at the single rate of about $7,000 per year and the other as a family plan at about $10,000 per year).

Finally, the board has changed the town attorney’s position from a retainer situation to a salaried employee (does this also add to retirement and other benefits?) – a change which I believe is the only one of its kind for a municipality of this size. His health care is about $7,000 annually. This makes the amount of money being paid for board members and the attorney’s health care roughly $25,000.

My suggestion to all board members and candidates is to clean this mess up and repeal the health care for these elected and appointed part-time officials. Board members do get paid a small stipend for their work on these boards, but many other boards in the area and throughout the state do not get paid for their volunteer services to their community and certainly do not get health care coverage. Making this change would help move you toward your goal of bringing in the budget under the tax cap with little or no negative impact on taxpayers. I would like to know which board members or candidates would be willing to make this change.

Thank you,

Clyde Baker

Saranac Lake