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PLAN GIVES RESERVISTS PAY BOOST

The county is working on a plan to supplement the incomes of employees called to active military duty during the war on terrorism.

Human Resources Director Bruce R. Fenwick said County Legislature Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster instructed him to work on the problem, and Fenwick said he expects to have a proposal worked out in time for consideration at the next meeting of the Legislature's Human Resources Committee, tentatively set for Nov. 7.

Fenwick said about 10 county employees who are in the National Guard or the Army Reserve have been activated since the Sept. 11 attack on America.

"The overriding concern of the county, given the situation in the world, is to be as fair as we possibly can to the people who find themselves in this situation," Fenwick said.

Glenn S. Aronow, Republican candidate for 16th District county legislator, told The Buffalo News he had received calls informing him that three deputies' families were concerned that they might lose their homes because they might not be able to make mortgage payments without the men's salaries.

"I want some assurance that the county's not going to leave these guys financially devastated," Aronow said. He said the county should make up the difference between their county salaries and their military pay, which he estimated at about $800 a month.

Under the state Military Law, the county has to continue paying the full salary of activated service personnel for 22 workdays or 30 calendar days after they are called up, whichever period is greater in terms of work time.

However, Fenwick said time taken for normal training counts against that limit. "Most of the people, because of training (earlier this year), have used most of that up," he said. But they are then allowed a supplemental paid leave of up to another 22 workdays or 30 calendar days.

If the employees are still on military duty when the second 22- or 30-day limit is reached, the county allows them to use their available paid vacation, personal or compensatory time.

The new policy will pertain to what happens when all that time is used up. Fenwick said, "There is consideration being made to provide additional benefits to those required in the law."

Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein said two patrol deputies, a corrections officer and a captain have been called to active duty.

Beilein said, "I'm going to lose two this week that have been called to New York City, and they're going to be gone for two weeks. Most of the ones called up before are with the 107th (Air Refueling Wing), and I believe they're indefinite."

Maj. Linda D. Blaszak, spokeswoman for the 107th, said members of that Air National Guard unit at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station were allowed to volunteer to be called to New York City to assist at ground zero. When called, their terms are for two weeks.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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