The First Job for a New Town Board Will Be to Cut Payroll

September 28, 2014

If we elect a new town board in November of 2015 its first job will be to stop the incredible abuse of our tax payers.  As most of us have already learned, according to the New York State Comptroller Ramapo is the most financially stressed municipality in New York State.  The Comptroller reported that no one on the town board acknowledged that they knew anything about the funding of St. Lawrence’s $60 million stadium.  Our town board seems equally ignorant about the funding and sale of what St. Lawrence promised would be “affordable housing”.  That housing has proven to be so expensive that many of the apartments have been sold illegally to limited liability corporations that rent apartments to new residents. Perhaps we should excuse these “mistakes” and hope our rubber stamp town board will pay more attention to town affairs in the future.  That, unfortunately, is not likely. 

Do you know that in August of 2013 the Empire Center reported that Ramapo had the highest average salary of any municipality in New York?  How could this happen?  We have to start with the fact that Supervisor St. Lawrence doesn’t mind spending other people’s money.  We are the other people.  He happily pays his key employees for their loyalty.  And when that doesn’t seem to work very well he forces them to sign his infamous gag order.  The gag order forbids civilian employees from talking to outsiders.  As one might expect, no member of his rubber stamp town board had any objections to King St. Lawrence’s gag order.

The first responsibility of our new town board would be to take a look at our town payroll.  Clearly something is wrong.  First we have the key people who surround St. Lawrence.  They have been given huge salary increases in recent years.  Is this hush money?  Should they be replaced?  Second, we have Ramapo’s strange legal department.  It has ten attorneys.  About half of them work only two days a week.  Have they been hired to do a job, or basically to create a loyal cadre that can be counted upon to help St. Lawrence get re-elected every two years?

Third, we have employees who, it seems, have been appointed to cement the loyalty of St. Lawrence’s key political supporters.  Perhaps the most blatant example of this is Bernard Charles, a loyal servant who can be put in any position where he is needed.  He was briefly on the East Ramapo school board, he was briefly a member of the Ramapo Planning Board, and now he fills the newly created position of assistant recreation activities directory with a salary of $45,973.  Bernard Charles, quite conveniently, is the husband of Brendel Logan a member of St. Lawrence’s rubber stamp town board.

Ramapo does not need any more employees.  We do not need overpaid patronage employees.  We need a town board that is willing to do its job.  And that job should begin with a careful look at our town payroll.

Our town payroll includes the four rubber stamp town board members who receive from $47,649 (Pat Withers) down to $35,695 (Yitzchok Ullman).  When our six member ward based town board is elected we can divide their total salary six ways instead of four ways.  And then each ward should demand that its new representative on the town board takes a careful look at all town expenditures and asks the hard questions that St. Lawrence has always managed to avoid.

Robert I. Rhodes, Chairman, Preserve Ramapo