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The Times
  • Herkimer Co. lays off 2 in assessor’s office

  • The assessor who spearheaded an investigation into the use of buildings owned by the Little Falls Family YMCA is one of two employees recently laid off in the Herkimer County Assessor’s Office. Joy Presta, along with an unidentified real property tax aide, were notified Wednesday morning they would be laid ...
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  • The assessor who spearheaded an investigation into the use of buildings owned by the Little Falls Family YMCA is one of two employees recently laid off in the Herkimer County Assessor’s Office.
    Joy Presta, along with an unidentified real property tax aide, were notified Wednesday morning they would be laid off effective Dec. 28, said JoAnne LeClair, Civil Service Employees Association Unit No. 7100 president.
    “The county has, for the most part, always notified us ahead of time, and this time they didn’t,” said LeClair, noting she learned of the layoffs from one of the employees.
    Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace and Legislator Patrick Russell said the decision was made on Nov. 15 due to lack of funding for the positions.
    “For five years, we’ve been looking at the program,” Russell, R - Old Forge, said. “I’ve been bringing it up every year.”
    Wallace said the department has been operating with a $115,010 deficit. He anticipates the layoffs will save $50,000 in 2013 and $84,000 in 2014. The discrepancy is due to the county budgeting for unemployment in the first year, Wallace said.
    Wallace said he wanted to give the department director time to find funding to keep the positions. He also said employees always are notified about layoffs before the union.
    Wallace and Russell emphasized the move wasn’t politically motivated.
    “We talk about positions. We don’t talk about names,” Wallace said. “The last person in is the first person out.”
    Presta wouldn’t comment Thursday.
    Little Falls Mayor Robert Peters said he didn’t see the layoff coming.
    “We have cases that are in litigation right now with (Joy Presta’s) name all over it. It’s a very bad time for this to happen. We need her on those cases.”
    The lawsuit involves three YMCA properties Presta placed back on the tax rolls because her investigation found they were not being used solely for charitable use.
    “I’m making every effort to either put her part-time for the city until such time as we deem fit that all our cases are completed, or maybe we’ll hire her on a permanent basis,” he said.
    In the meantime, LeClair said the union will be doing its research to see if the employees can be bumped into another position within the county as well as whether there is evidence a grievance should be filed.
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