The Essex County Board of Supervisors
Essex County no longer has a residency policy for employees.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors passed a pair of resolutions at its March 5 meeting, rescinding the county's residency policy as well as granting residency waiver requests for 14 current out-of-county residents.
County attorney Dan Manning said that the waivers were needed because the employees felt that they had been told by their departments that they had already received a waiver.
"A lot of these people say that they had a defacto waiver from the county and we have just not done enough of a job keeping up with it," Manning said. "Let's wipe the slate clear and allow the people who have worked here for many years to continue to work here as they have."
Westport Supervisor Dan Connell said that while he did not mind rescinding the policy, he had a problem with the waivers.
"We laid off 15 people when we had this policy that you had to be a county resident, so I have a problem that we let them stay now," Connell said. "I do not have a problem with the new plan that rescinds the policy, but when we had it and then didn't use it, I have a problem with that."
Connell and Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava opposed the waivers.
The board then discussed the rescinding of the residency policy as a whole, which North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore felt was a mistake.
"I think it is a mistake not having a residency policy," Moore said. "I can't understand how we went from an attempt at putting some teeth in a policy that we had on our books to totally doing away with it."
Moore said that he always looked from within his town for employees because that is what the taxpayers wanted.
"I would be roasted if I didn't and rightfully so," Moore said. " I think we have an obligation to the people of this county to offer them the jobs first."
Scozzafava added that rescinding the policy could also lead to issues of employees moving out of the county or out-of-state employees being hired.
"Under the new policy, employees that are here will be able to move out of county," Scozzafava said. "We could also be opening the door to not only hiring someone from outside of Essex County but outside of the state, because there are probably people in Addison County that could be qualified."
Scozzafava felt that if there was no residency requirement, that preference still should be made to county residents.
"At the very least, we should have some statement that Essex County residents will be preferred," Scozzafava said. "You don't have to say they will be hired, but say they will be preferred. The issue is not so much hiring from outside the county its the issue of if they are hire, they have to move into the county."
"I would like to see residency preferred in here," Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said.
"My concern is who is going to monitor and police a policy that says you are going to give preference," County Manager Daniel Palmer said. "You as a board cannot tell the hiring authority who they can hire as long as they are on the list of three. If you are going to open the exam to everyone, then you have to consider the top three. If they are all out of county, then you have to choose from those three regardless if you open it up to everybody."
Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said he felt the most qualified employee should be hired.
"We hire the most qualified person," Morrow said. "If they live in the town, we give them preference. My constituents have said they would rather pay for a qualified person."
"There are cases where they need to go out of county," Schroon Supervisor Michael Marnell said. "I don't think we can restrict them. You can have the rules, but you might have to break them as some point."
Moore, Connell, Scozzafava, and Crown Point Supervisor Charles Harrington voted against the rescinding of the residency policy.
Board members Margaret Bartley (Elizabethtown), William Ferebee (Keene) and board chairman Randy Douglas (Jay) were not in attendance, as they were in Washington, D.C. for meetings with federal legislators. Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston and St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency were also absent.