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Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth proposes salary freeze

Town of Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth is proposing a wage reduction for Town Board members and a town-wide wage freeze in response to news of lagging property tax receipts.

Southworth unveiled the plan at a Tuesday, Sept. 8, budget workshop, the first of the year for the Town Board. She suggested a 15 percent pay decrease for herself and four councilpersons that would result in an $8,522 savings in 2010's budget. 2009's budget stands at $6.2 million.

Southworth said a wage freeze is a difficult choice to make, but taxpayers must be put first in efforts to keep the town viable.

I would stack our workforce against an workforce out there, but unfortunately the budget is what it is, she said. "I think a salary freeze for the employees is something that we just don't have an option on."

Councilwoman Mary Beth Hynes characterized Southworth's proposal as a political gesture that would not be an effective measure. She said she would be happy to take the pay cut as a symbolic gesture, but opposes a wage freeze for employees, even if raises next year have to be kept to one or two percent.

"I just think that a lot of it is something that sounds good, but is certainly not going to be enough on its own to close the budget gap that we're looking at," Hynes said.

The town is projecting a decrease in tax revenue for 2009 in the vicinity of $250,000. Hynes said it would be more prudent to shed activities funded by town dollars like support for the Brookside Museum, Community Health Services or the town-sponsored fireworks on Flag Day.

"It's sad, because these are really good, well attended and valued community events, but I'm hearing it loud and clear from people that they don't want a tax burden," she said.

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