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MALTA: Board works on budget

"I'm flabbergasted you'd try to muzzle my efforts to speak out about the clerk," Sausville told the town board. "Her performance is evaluated on Election Day, and she has been elected on a number of occasions. She needs the resources to carry out her job, and by cutting those funds, it shifts the responsibility of the clerk over to the town board."

Town board members Gerald Winters, Sue Nolen, Cliff Lange and Donna Gizzi voted to accept the preliminary budget and pass it on to a public hearing. Because the proposed cuts to the clerk's office remained on the table, Sausville voted against accepting the budget draft.

Lange spoke after the meeting with members of the press to explain his position.

"This year, we found out (Sickels) was leaving work to go to another job, and I could see the deputy clerk was doing all the work," said Lange. "She's paid $44,000 for 30 hours a week, and legally she can come and go as she likes. We can't fire her, only the voters can."

Lange said reducing the hours of the deputy clerk was a move to hone up what he believes is a loosely run office. He also said there had been negotiations back and forth about the budgeted amount for the clerk's office, and those discussions would likely continue as the board reviews the plan in weeks to come.

Board member Donna Gizzi said she removed herself from discussions about the clerk's office budget when it began to show signs of a political tug of war.

"This isn't the way to get things done," said Gizzi after the meeting.

The 2008 budget draft will go before residents at a public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 8.""

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