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December 14, 2012

Essex County treasurer warns of 'fiscal cliff' ahead

(Continued)

PAY FREEZE

O’Neill said management-confidential employees at the county, after two years of no raises, at least got 2 percent pay increases in the 2013 budget.

“When people don’t get a raise, it results in a decrease in pay due to inflation. It’s a real disincentive to us promoting people from within.”

O’Neill said he promoted two people who ended up making about the same as those in lower-ranking positions because of the pay freeze.

TAXES TO RISE

Diskin said Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes are due to go back up from 5.65 to 7.65 percent on Jan. 1, so workers will be taking home less money.

“It has been predicted that the average wage earner will be paying at least $1,000 more in taxes in 2013. It’s a major concern to people.”

SMALLER SURPLUS

The 2014 county budget will include a much lower fund balance, so there won’t be much of a safety net.

“I personally have some real concerns about our ability to meet the everyday needs of having enough available funds to meet payroll and weekly accounts-payable checks,” Diskin said.

“We are right now operating on a tightrope every time we have to meet a payroll or pay weekly bills.

“I am not trying to scare anyone but merely stating my opinion based on what I see coming down the very short road.”

Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said he wishes Diskin had shared some of his information with them earlier.

“He never once came to me and said he was having a hard time making payroll. If we’re having such a fiscal cliff, we shouldn’t be having 2 percent raises (for department heads). You can’t have it both ways. Mr. Diskin is getting a 2 percent raise. I am not getting a raise.”

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