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BOARD BACKS SUPERVISOR ON RAISING HIS SALARY

After two hours of at times bitter argument, the Town Board this week voted 4-1 to pay Supervisor Jerry L. Dean the same amount he says his predecessor would have received had she been re-elected.

Councilwoman Nancy Schaal Simmons cast the only vote against the salary revision.

Dean threatened to sue the board if it did not give him the $4,250 increase.

Before November's election, the town published a legal notice on the preliminary town budget that included a base salary of $17,000 for the supervisor, who was then Marilynn R. Allgeier.

That budget also included two other sources of income for the supervisor -- $2,050 for being town budget officer and $1,000 for being purchasing agent -- for a total of $20,050.

But a few days after Dean, a Republican running on the Democratic line, defeated GOP incumbent Allgeier by 13 votes to culminate a bitter campaign, the board, consisting of the same four Republican councilmen as now, revised the budget.

It cut the supervisor's base pay to $15,000, while dropping the budget officer stipend to $800 and abolishing the purchasing officer line.

"You tell me that wasn't a willful attack on the (new) supervisor," Dean told the board.

Councilman Donald Luff Jr. denied it, saying the board was only trying to prevent a tax increase. "We would not adopt a 2000 budget until it was lowered," he said.

Dean also contended that the cut was made illegally, in executive session, not by a resolution in a public meeting.

Councilman Brad L. Clark supported Dean, though he was unsure whether the $1,000 for the duties of purchasing officer was separate or included in the base pay Allgeier would have received.

"I think you've been wronged," he told Dean.

Dean also tried to insist on a raise for his secretary, SharonFaery, but the board balked at that. In the budget, the salaries for the supervisor and secretary are combined on the same line.

After the election, the board cut the secretary's allotment from last year's $15,631 for the secretary, H. Jean Figura, to $8,000. Dean called that "an insult."

However, when it became apparent that insisting on both raises was threatening his hopes of winning any increase, Dean agreed to separate the two issues. But he vowed that Faery's pay would rise.

"That'll be another night," he said.

Dean also asserted that there is a state law allowing the supervisor to pay his secretary any amount he wants. Town Attorney Walter E. Moxham Jr. said, "I haven't had the chance to research that."

Simmons said the cut was fair because Faery is new, while Figura had 18 years of experience.

Dean said, "When you ran for the Town Board, did they cut you $400 or $500 because you were new?"

"I didn't run for the salary, and I didn't run for the benefits," Simmons replied.

Dean said he is also prepared to go to the mat about his health insurance coverage. Last summer, the board passed a law that part-time elected officials such as the supervisor can receive town health insurance only if they pay the full premium out of their own pockets.

Contending that this law was illegal, Dean said he intends to get it changed. In the meantime, he said that he intends to pay the premium but that he has not yet done so.

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