Saratoga County Board of Supervisors: More Surprises!

No one should assume that the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors is a monolithic group. In a later post I will be discussing a Zoom meeting I attended of a group of dissident Supervisors who very much oppose what is going on. I find the boldness of the current faction in power to completely marginalize these Supervisors who represent roughly seventy percent of the residents of the County quite stunning. These dissident Supervisors are completely in the dark as to who is being paid what at the County. They are no more informed about what is going on in our County than the readers of this blog. I find it stunning to write this.

WAMC’s Lucas Willard contacted the County Administrator, Spencer Hellwig, regarding the County’s pay controversy. Hellwig responded in an email revealing a recent action that has been taken regarding county salaries.

Poof! No more raises (maybe)

As the readers of this blog will recall, the Board of Supervisors empowered a committee comprised of three Supervisors, County Administrator Hellwig, and the County Human Resources Director to basically run the Saratoga County government. The Supervisors gave them the authority to grant raises and create new employment positions. I had previously referred to this committee as the “special” committee because up to now it had no public name. Based on Hellwig’s email we now know its name. It is called the “COVID Oversight Group (COG).”

According to Mr. Hellwig’s email, on April 2 the COG, in violation of the Open Meetings Law, voted to cancel the raises of however many employees were still receiving them at that point. As all of this was done behind closed doors with no records of their proceedings, we have no idea how many people this entailed or who they were.

Complicating the murkiness of all of this was the following:

In response to a question related to some county employees promised time-and-a-half, only for that pay rate to be reduced later, Administrator Hellwig said in an email that all related concerns from county employees have been addressed. In addition, Hellwig added in part that “items discussed during CBA [JK: Acronym meaning?] negotiations with Public Safety unions are to be kept confidential.”

Lucas Willard April 15 story

I am not sure who is represented by the Public Safety unions but at a minimum I would assume it would be the Saratoga County Deputy Sheriffs and the correctional officers who staff the county jail. We are and will, at least in the foreseeable future, be unsure of the status of their salaries both present and past.

I would hazard a guess that while Mr. Hellwig and the faction of Supervisors who support him may believe that he/they have addressed “all related concerns from county employees,” I suspect that there may be County employees out there who do not share this view.

Based on the Zoom meeting I attended, I can assure the readers of this blog that the Supervisors representing the majority of residents of our county had no idea that any of this had occurred.

In his email to Lucas Willard Spencer Hellwig also addressed the issue of suspending Rule #1 at the special Supervisor meeting that has been called for Friday. As readers will recall suspending Rule #1 would allow the cancelling of regularly scheduled Supervisor meetings. If the motion to do this is defeated the regular Supervisor meeting on Tuesday would have to be convened.

In his email, Administrator Hellwig said the item regarding the suspension of Rule #1 “will afford the County the opportunity to address operational needs and I have no reason to believe this would not be approved.”

Lucas Willard April 15, 2020 WAMC

I find the Administrator’s comments more than odd.

First, how would cancelling the regular meeting of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors “…afford the County the opportunity to address operational needs”?

Secondly, why is Administrator Hellwig so confident that a motion to suspend Rule #1 will pass? Indications now are that a weighted vote would defeat this.

I guess we will find out shortly.

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