2011 budget passes despite narrowly missed amendments

NORWICH – Unlike the equable atmosphere presented Monday at a public hearing on the draft 2011 budget for Chenango County, yesterday’s meeting to formally adopt the budget was strained by proposed amendments and even personal accusations.

Town of Plymouth Supervisor Jerry Kreiner moved to amend portions of the budget that would have lowered the salary of one employee and cut another’s part-time job. The moves would have kept a position in the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center, one that the Sheriff, himself, has said he will ask to fill next year, and would have saved approximately $12,500 by zeroing out the Traffic budget.

Kreiner, a Republican, said he couldn’t support the proposed budget because it presents a false portrayal of the spending plan for next year. He said Emergency Management Services Director Matt Beckwith’s appointment at the beginning of the year, his move to head the fire department and subsequent release from dispatch were made “in haste.”

“There’s not a real rationale as to why it’s a good move,” he said. “The Sheriff has said several times this (the dispatch) job is a necessary position and will need the funding. He needs adequate staffing.”

Kreiner’s complaints centered on Beckwith’s salary, which, at $57,784, he felt was too much, and he faulted Chairman of the Board Richard B. Decker, R-N. Norwich, for making the January appointment without prior board discussion.

City of Norwich Supervisor James McNeil, a Democrat, seconded Kreiner’s motion to amend the budget.

During discussion, the supervisors from New Berlin, Preston and Smyrna supported Kreiner’s concern about Decker’s appointment, and recommended an investigation into the protocol for making them. New Berlin’s Ross Iannello, who is politically unaffiliated, suggested looking into the rules that govern whether the Finance Committee can pass resolutions without having them heard through the committee system.

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