Levy Goes in Front of Legislature to Restructure Office Again

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After restructuring his office a couple months ago, Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy is attempting to shuffle more money around with the hope of giving raises to two of his employees.

During a personnel committee meeting on April 22, Levy made the case to pay two assistant district attorneys in his office more money, but it didn’t come without pushback from some legislators, who contended it would be more appropriate to wait until budget time to make those moves.

The restructuring includes shifts in salary for three positions. After an employee left the office, the new hire to fill that vacate position is taking an $18,000 pay cut. The second position calls for a pay increase of about $10,000 and the third position calls for an increase of $8,000.

The employee proposed to get a $10,000 pay increase has been with the county for less than a year and earned a previous pay raise two months ago. The employee proposed to get the $8,000 pay bump was hired a couple months ago.

The moves would not result in any additional fiscal impact to taxpayers in the county, Levy said. He also said his assistant district attorneys (ADA) are currently underpaid, but Levy said he’s been able to draw experienced prosecutors with the promise to them he’d fight to find raises for them.

“You have to ask yourself what are these ADA’s doing, what is their responsibility, how long have they been prosecutors,” Levy said. “What I try to do is to create an office with as experienced prosecutors that I could to ensure that the people of this county are protected.”

Legislator and Personnel Committee Chairwoman Ginny Nacerino did air out concerns she had with the possible moves, stating it underscores the budget process the legislature goes through before the start of the fiscal year and it could derail morale among other departments that haven’t seen raises in multiple years.

She also argued the prosecutors that are hired by Levy should understand that the county can only afford to pay them so much money, and it may not be as much as the private sector or other public jobs at neighboring counties.

“We have to consider this request and how if affects the county has a whole,” Nacerino said. “You’re not an island onto yourself.”

Legislator Lou Tartaro, who is also on the personnel committee, said Levy came to the legislature two months ago to restructure his office, and every legislator was behind him. Now, if the legislature approves another restructure in a two-month span, it would have ramifications, he claimed.

But not every legislator was against it.

Legislator Sam Oliverio, who at times has been critical of Levy, agreed with Levy and said it would enhance the office. He said he fears losing the qualified people in the office right now if the legislature doesn’t move to give them those raises. He also said when it comes to public safety the county has an additional responsibility to keep those employees around.

“Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is,” Oliverio said. “If you want the best and brightest, you have to pay for the best and brightest.”

Legislator Roger Gross agreed, and said the new distribution would be a creative incentive that Levy, as an elected official, should be able to do. Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra also supported Levy’s request, and said it’s an avenue for Putnam to retain top attorneys.

At times, Nacerino and Levy forcefully butted heads over the possible restructure, but regardless of the sometimes heated debate, the measure was moved to the Audit Committee meeting and is expected to be moved to the May full legislature meeting.

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