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Letter to the Editor

 

Gregory Brodeur, County Commissioner, District 2

11:28 am

Independent Editor,

   On Thursday, July 15, the County Board of Commissioners met to discuss and vote on the use of federal COVID relief to give our county employees much deserved bonuses. I was unable to be at the meeting due to attending my brother’s funeral in Indiana. Imagine my surprise when on Monday, I received a very upset call from fellow commissioner Marlene Webster asking me if I knew we commissioners had each received a $5,000 bonus as part of the COVID relief! I soon found out not only was it true, but two commissioners had received $10,000 and one $25,000.

   Folks, I have only been on the board of commissioners for seven months and in no way do I deserve a $5,000 payment for wearing a mask to meetings. Next week, I am donating the money to a local charity because there is no good way to return money to the county.  Maybe that way some good can come out of this nonsense.

   How did this happen? Well, it starts in Washington where a collection of elected fools have been throwing around trillions of borrowed dollars to everyone in sight, mortgaging our grandchildren’s lives so they can look like caring wonderful people to their voters. Someday, sadly, our children and grandchildren will curse us for allowing this travesty. Anyway, a nice chunk of this legalized federal graft floated down to the county level where we were going to make a genuine effort to use the funds to shore up our shaky finances and at least use some of it to give a boost to our employees. The unfortunate truth is we are not a wealthy community and regularly lose employees to neighboring counties who pay more.

   As technical employees of the county, it was mentioned to me that we commissioners would also be a part of whatever formula was developed for the bonus. I figured since we don’t make much as commissioners – our base pay being only about $10,000 a year, commissioners may receive a couple hundred bucks at most – not $5,000 to $25,000! The decision was made during a closed meeting on Thursday, July 15. I am not an attorney, but my understanding is employee premium payments are in fact allowed to take place in closed session under the rules of the Open Meetings Act. I can’t know for certain what all was discussed or divulged during the session because I was not there. Even if I knew, oddly, it would be illegal for me to discuss it because it was a closed session. I do know I strongly disagree with how this was done and that it was done at all. If I had known ahead of time, I would have taken loud and demanding steps to oppose the commissioner bonuses.

   I am further saddened by the reality that I have great respect for the work of my fellow commissioners in the years prior to my joining the board. They inherited a county in dire financial condition and through hard work and wise choices have set our community on a financial path that does not lead to eventual bankruptcy and the disaster that it would entail.    

   We will all live in a better place in the coming years because of the decisions made to reduce debt and pay down unfunded liabilities as the federal government mortgages our future. How unfortunate that instead of that important work this misguided and entirely avoidable bonus nonsense may understandingly be what people remember.

Gregory Brodeur

County Commissioner, District 2

Gregory Brodeur, County Commissioner, District 2 was last modified: July 28th, 2021 by Karen Elford