Wednesday, December 9, 2015

County GOP approves $ for sheriff, but not for homeless or the library

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 10:44 AM

click to enlarge Carrie Andrews - FILE PHOTO
  • Carrie Andrews
The County Legislature says that Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn can have a bigger paycheck, but that funding for a homeless shelter or restoring hours at the Central Library is out of the question.

Last night, the Legislature passed County Executive Maggie Brooks 2016 budget proposal without any amendments, despite several Democratic proposals. It also approved a recommendation by a bogus compensation commission to increase O'Flynn's pay in 2017, and to implement a sliding scale for the sheriff's salary in the following years.

Both votes broke along party lines, with the GOP pushing the measures through; Republican Tony Micciche cast his caucus's sole vote against the sheriff's raise.

Here's a rundown of the Democrats' proposed budget amendments, all of which the GOP majority shot down:
  • John Lightfoot proposed reallocating $50,000 from a contingency fund for a winter shelter for the homeless, which Ernest Flagler-Mitchell seconded. The city has committed $50,000 to the shelter.
  • Josh Bauroth suggested a $40,000 contribution toward the shelter, which would have come out of a contingency fund;
  • Dorothy Styk proposed adding care of the chronically homeless as a primary objective of the county's mental health office. Willie Joe Lightfoot said that Styk's amendment, and the two offered previously, would not cost a lot of money but would have a big impact on a very vulnerable population. "Why can't we, as a county, step up to the plate?" Lightfoot said. "I'm begging you."
  • Paul Haney proposed moving $104,000 out of an account for fleet fuel costs to the Central Library so that the library it could re-establish Sunday hours.
Later in the meeting, Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot made another attempt to direct $50,000 to the homeless shelter, but using money from the 2015 budget. GOP legislators blocked the proposal.

As for the sheriff's pay recommendation that the Lej voted on, the GOP offered little explanation for its support. Democrats condemned it.

"This report is disgusting," said Legislator Joe Morelle Jr., who served on the compensation commission that drafted it. "I cannot be in favor of it."

Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews pointed out that the sliding scale that the recommendation calls for would give an incumbent sheriff a higher salary than a challenger, should the challenger win the election. It hands challengers a ready-made campaign talking point, that they could save taxpayers money since they'd be paid less, Andrews said.

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