June 3rd, 2020
Legislation Would Have Created Patronage Positions at the Monroe County Board of Elections
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced that he has vetoed a measure passed by the Monroe County Legislature at the legislature’s special meeting on May 26, 2020. Motion 20-0199 would have created six new, full time positions in the Monroe County Board of Elections at a cost of approximately $500,000 a year to local taxpayers.
The Monroe County Board of Elections’ current payroll already accounts for two of the highest paid Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners in New York State. The proposal to establish six new positions within this department included the creation of two Assistant Deputy Commissioner positions that would pay $76,000 - $98,000 per year, but did not provide a job description or clearly defined duties for these supervisory level positions. All six of proposed positions would be a direct chargeback to Monroe County taxpayers, directly impacting their county tax bill, because the jobs are newly created and not replacement positions for current county openings.
“From the party that brought you the failed CABLE Act, which was an attempted power grab to overturn the clear demand by voters for a new way of governing, comes their latest efforts to create and protect patronage jobs on the backs of hard working Monroe County taxpayers. This is the wrong way of doing business and reeks of the patronage ways of past administrations, which the residents of our community widely rejected in last November’s election,” said County Executive Adam Bello. “I find it concerning that the members of the County Legislature Majority are focused on helping their friends receive a taxpayer-funded job at a time when county government has taken steps to reduce costs by $47 million and has implemented a hiring freeze in light of the fiscal challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Over the course of questioning on this measure at the County Legislature meeting, it was revealed that this would be the first reorganization of the Board of Elections in over 30 years. County Executive Bello notes in his veto message that any reorganization of this magnitude should be given further consideration, with public discussion and proper vetting, before rushing into a final decision.
The County administration and the Board of Elections leadership have discussed adding staff to handle the influx of absentee ballots that are expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As early as June 8, 2020 the Board of Elections will have 22 new seasonal employees, nearly 3x the typical number of seasonal employees at the Board for this time of the year. Despite these ongoing discussions and the additional staff already agreed upon, the six positions created in this measure were never mentioned or proposed to the county administration until it received the County Legislature referral at 11:29 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 – the same day the motion was to be voted on.
“While I fully support the Board of Election’s efforts to ensure our elections are fair and valid, I do not believe adding six supervisory level positions helps to alleviate the issues at hand. I would take the same actions I am taking today if any other county department came to my administration with a similar request,” concluded Bello.