Tupper Lake Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun had some tough words for North Country Community College and his Essex County counterparts Dec. 8.
Essex County supervisors ratified a three-year contract between NCCC and its civil service employees Tuesday, Dec. 7 that would grant three percent raises retroactive to 2010 and allow existing employees to continue not contributing to their health insurance.
And Maroun said the votes to ratify the deal simply aren't there on the Franklin County Board of Legislators.
"I think that their negotiators have to start getting real and understand that those things just aren't happening right now," he said. "I can tell you, when we start negotiating with the county, that 3.5 percent will not even be considered."
Like Essex County Chairman Randy Douglas - who continued to oppose the contract - Maroun argues that it isn't appropriate to approve pay raises for college employees while insisting on no raises for county employees and requiring them to contribute 10 percent toward their health insurance costs.
"How in good conscience now, can I okay a contract with a raise, no or low-pay health insurance contribution and not offer anything like that to my employees," he said.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors approved the contract after learning it may have violated the state Public Employees Fair Employment Act when it torpedoed the deal earlier this year.
Essex County supervisors worried that the budget-neutral item could cost the county thousands in litigation expenses if the county's ability to kill a good-faith deal was challenged.
But believing county oversight of the largely locally-funded college is legal, Maroun is ready to fight it out.
"If what they think is true over there is - which I've never heard before - let them take it to court," he said. "According to what I've read and what our attorney tells us, we have to ratify the contract."
And he took a shot at the Essex County board in the process.
"I'm a little ashamed of my brethren over in Essex County. They waited until after the election to bring this up and pass it," he said. "I think Tim Burpoe is going to bring it up, but I've talked to most of the legislators and this is not going to pass."
Franklin County District 7 Legislator Tim Burpoe has also expressed concern that the votes may not be there to ratify the contract.
The contract ratification is expected to come before Franklin County legislators in the coming weeks. Because it had been torpedoed by Essex County, the contract didn't see the Franklin County floor in September.
The deal would require only new-hires to contribute 8 percent toward their health insurance premiums.