K athy Jones was replaced last week as the Town of Whitehall’s budget officer in a cost-cutting move Supervisor George Armstrong said will save the town tens of thousands of dollars.
Armstrong chose last Wednesday not to reappoint Jones who has served as budget officer, Supervisor’s clerk, and the town highway superintendent’s clerk for the past three years.
Joel Carpenter will replace Jones as budget officer and Supervisor’s clerk. The highway superintendent’s clerk will remain vacated with those duties now becoming the responsibility of the highway superintendent.
Officials said the decision to replace Jones was all about dollars and cents.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with performance. She did a very good job for the town, was very loyal to me and did everything I asked of her,” he said, “but I became aware talking to other supervisors that we were paying twice as much as anyone else except Hudson Falls whose comptroller has 24 years of experience and three times the population of Whitehall.
“In these tough economic times we can’t afford to pay twice as much as other communities for the same job,” Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, after factoring in benefits, Jones’ total compensation in 2013 would have been $54,000. Carpenter, who serves as the budget officer for the Towns of Granville and Hartford and came highly recommended by supervisors in both those communities, will be paid a salary of $22,000. The town will also contribute roughly 20 percent to his pension bringing the total compensation package to $26,400.
The town will also realize an additional savings of approximately $15,000 because it will not have to purchase new accounting software, Armstrong said.
“This was not an easy decision, and I feel terrible, but I couldn’t in good conscience ask the taxpayers to pay double what Granville was,” Armstrong said.
Despite the potential savings, the decision not to reappoint Jones was not well received by everyone.
“I hope you won’t forget all the money Kathy has saved this town during her three years on the job and I hope everything doesn’t fall on Julie (Millett, town clerk),” said Elaine Senecal Jones, deputy town clerk.
“You’ll never realize how much she did.”
Jones will continue to be paid and receive health benefit for 30 days.
Carpenter’s appointment will be for a year and is made at the pleasure of the supervisor.
The decision not to reappoint Jones was the only significant change made in the town’s power structure during last week’s organizational meeting. The only change of any note was the appointment of Nancy Quell as dog control officer. Quell had already been serving as the alternate dog control officer and has her own kennel facilities to board animals.
She will be paid the same salary as her predecessor.
In other matters, Armstrong said the town’s voting districts have been consolidated. Whitehall previously had five distinct voting districts but will now have three. Districts one, two and three will now be district one and district four will become district two. Voters in those districts will continue to use the Whitehall Municipal Center as their official polling place. District five will become district three and voters will continue to cast their ballots at the Town Highway Garage just east of the village.