Also backs settlement of alleged wrongful arrest case
Putnam County legislators on Tuesday (Dec. 7) approved 2.4 percent raises for the county executive, county clerk, the sheriff and themselves.
Legislator Nancy Montgomery, a Democrat whose district covers Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley, cast the lone “no” votes.
County Executive MaryEllen Odell will receive $170,070 annually beginning Jan. 1 while County Clerk Michael Bartolotti gets $139,462. Eight legislators will earn $42,802 each for their part-time jobs and whoever chairs the Legislature will draw $53,503. The incoming sheriff, Kevin McConville, will take home $160,209.
Montgomery joined her eight Republican colleagues in unanimously adopting another measure that set salaries for various employees and increases the salary of the Legislature’s clerk to $104,794 annually and the two Board of Election commissioners to $98,235 each.
The salary increases passed without debate. However, in October, before the Legislature adopted the county’s $167.1 million budget for 2022, Montgomery opposed raising the pay for Odell and other top officials while increasing property taxes even as Putnam anticipates $62 million in 2022 in sales tax revenue.
The lawmakers last gave themselves a raise in November 2020, when they voted 5-4 to boost their salaries and those of top officials and department heads by 2.4 percent.
Also on Tuesday, legislators unanimously agreed to settle, for $125,000, a lawsuit filed by a Poughkeepsie man who claimed sheriff’s deputies had been motivated by racial prejudice when they arrested and allegedly assaulted him during a 2019 traffic stop on the Taconic State Parkway. In November, the legislative Rules Committee consented to the settlement, sending it on to a vote by the full Legislature.
“We wrestled with this case” but concluded that “it’s in the best interests of taxpayers that we move this forward and settle,” said Legislator Neal Sullivan of Carmel-Mahopac, who chairs the Rules Committee. If the county lost in court, “the potential negative effect on taxpayers and the amount of dollars could be significant,” he said. “In no way do we think the behavior in this case is acceptable. We look forward to next year and the future with our new sheriff and having a real strong approach toward making sure that these things do not happen.”
Montgomery objected that Sullivan seemed to suggest that the present sheriff, Robert Langley Jr., a Democrat who lost to McConville, a Republican, in the November election, “was responsible for the behavior of these two officers” and that they did not receive adequate training. “That’s inappropriate. It’s wrong,” she said.
Legislator Amy Sayegh of Mahopac emphasized that “these were alleged actions” by the deputies but said that while she didn’t “want to throw any officers under the bus,” she also didn’t condone misbehavior.
“There needs to be some kind of culpability to prevent these kinds of cases,” added Legislator Ginny Nacerino of Patterson. “That’s not a reflection on any one person or the sheriff, but there has to be some culpability and some understanding of accountability. I’d like to see that culture change.”
Legislature meetings end with members’ ad hoc comments and Montgomery and Legislator Bill Gouldman of Putnam Valley used theirs to recognize Supervisors Richard Shea of Philipstown and Sam Oliverio of Putnam Valley, who both leave office this month. Oliverio served on the county Legislature and Putnam Valley Town Board before becoming supervisor.
In other business, the Legislature unanimously approved compensation of up to $84,000 in 2022 for Robert Firriolo, its lawyer; signed off on a fund transfer of $102,500 (endorsed last month by the Rules Committee) so the county Law Department can pay bills before Dec. 31; and reappointed Andrew Pidala of Philipstown to the county Board of Electrical Examiners.
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