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Carthage/West Carthage sewer board salary dispute to go to arbitration

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CARTHAGE — Reaching an impasse on salary for the sewer board clerk, the Carthage/West Carthage Water Pollution Control Facilities Management Board decided to go to arbitration to settle the matter.

In March, the management board passed a $1,270,510 budget for the fiscal year beginning June 1, leaving a $14,500 salary in place and agreeing to continue to negotiate salaries.

The salaries for the positions are shared by the utility board using a ratio dependent on water and sewer use. The water clerk/treasurer salary was approved at $4,036 for the coming year.

The sewer board positions have salaries of $6,500 and $1,500 for the clerk/treasurer and assistant, respectively. The proposed pay raise would bring the clerk/treasurer position to $12,000 and the assistant to $2,500.

At budget time, Carthage Village President G. Wayne McIlroy said the sewer treasurer/clerk has to deal with the Development Authority of the North Country, which provides engineering services to the plant, and employee issues including the Teamsters Union. On the water side, there are no employee or union issues and only about 10 bills per month. He also said besides the differences in responsibilities, the budgets for the water and sewer differ greatly. Since budget time, with board approval, the two clerks have met to work out a plan to share duties.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Kristy L. O’Shaughnessy, the sewer board clerk/treasurer, said she works an average of 38 hours per month. Mr. McIlroy pointed out the water clerk/treasurer, at most, works two hours a week, equating to $40 per hour as opposed to an estimated $14 per hour on the sewer side. The water board clerk/treasurer position is held by West Carthage employee Deborah J. Pierce.

“I have heartburn with that,” Mr. McIlroy said, referring to the inequality of rate of pay.

West Carthage Mayor Scott M. Burto repeated his previous position that he could not see giving an 85 percent pay increase in one year and said pay increases should have been given over the years.

“Should she be penalized for that?” Mr. McIlroy asked.

Mr. Burto acknowledged the time spent on the duties of the sewer board clerk is greater than he had thought.

“Are you doing work that DANC or (sewer plant chief operator Bart Crary) should be doing?” Mr. Burto asked, receiving a negative reply.

Board Chairman Michael F. Astafan said the board would not budge on the proposed $12,000 salary for the sewer clerk/treasurer.

“Sewer has become a bigger job,” board member Linda Spencer-Smith said.

Mr. Burto moved to increase the $6,500 salary to $7,500. The measure was defeated 4-3, split along village lines. The board consists of four representatives from Carthage and three from West Carthage based on usage from the two villages.

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