Carrie M. Andrews and Willie Lightfoot
Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 13, Republicans in the Monroe County Legislature rushed through a last-minute budget amendment that provided Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn with an 11 percent pay hike. Without any warning, almost no debate and zero input from the public, the amendment passed along party lines. To say this pay increase is a slap in the face to taxpayers is an understatement.
The 2012 county budget cut funding that had been used for lead paint poisoning prevention programs and runaway and homeless youth services. It also continued to completely ignore a need in our community to provide resources to address HIV prevention strategies for our youth. In fact, there are many issues facing children that continue to be de-prioritized in the county's budget.
Monroe County has been turning away hundreds of children a month from its subsidized day care program, which allows low- income working mothers and families to obtain gainful employment while knowing their children are safe in the care of someone responsible. Without additional county support, this program has had to cease adding new families for over a year.
While the county executive and Republican majority have decided to make these devastating cuts to needed programs that support families in our community, at the same time they have chosen to provide all management employees with another 2.5 percent pay raise. This unconscionable set of policies is a symptom of what's wrong with this county government.
Is that the kind of community that we have become? Is this the kind of community we strive to be? Where the politically connected and highest paid receive pay increases and the poor and vulnerable are left to sink further into poverty? Is this how you want your tax dollars spent?
We should all remember how we are supposed to strive to work for the benefit of many, not just the benefit of a few.
The Legislature should immediately rescind Sheriff O'Flynn's pay raise and fully fund preventive and youth services, and the county should return to the bargaining table with the men and women who make Monroe County work.
Andrews and Lightfoot are assistant minority leaders in the Monroe County Legislature.