Recent hirings have Ulster County lawmakers questioning Chairwoman Terry Bernardo (corrected)
KINGSTON, N.Y. — The leaders of the Ulster County Legislature’s Health and Personnel Committee are calling on Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo to account for her spending on recent legislative hires.
In a memo dated Friday, committee Chairman Robert Aiello, R-Saugerties, and Vice Chairwoman Jeanette Provenzano, D-Kingston, asked Bernardo to provide them with a report detailing “a listing of current positions, name or person in the position, salary, job description, current accruals and work schedule.”
“The 2012 adopted county budget included $707,030 to pay legislators and fund a specific staffing plan,” the memo states. “Since January, several personnel changes have been made that have left many legislators and the public concerned how these tax dollars have been spent.”
The request was made a day after Bernardo, R-Accord, announced the appointment of Saugerties resident Frank Reggero to a $50,000-a-year job as the Legislature’s budget analyst, the latest in a string of controversial staffing changes by Bernardo since she was elected chairwoman in January.
Aiello said he was particularly disappointed that, although he is chairman of the Legislature’s Personnel Committee, he is not being made privy to the appointments ahead of time. He said he learned about Reggero’s appointment from a newspaper article.
“I’m a senior legislator there, and I’m just not happy with handing out $50,000 salaries like they’re $10,000 salaries,” Aiello said.
“I would expect the chairwoman to find the most qualified person for the post, and when I read the article detailing Reggero’s background ... it’s time for me to state asking some questions.”
Aiello and Provenzano have asked Bernardo to provide them the information by Monday.
Legislature Minority Leader David Donaldson on Friday again blasted Bernardo for her personnel changes, saying “the things now being done in the name of the county Republicans for the taxpayers reminds me of the (jail construction project)” — a reference to the much-delayed and over-budget construction of the county’s Law Enforcement Center, which opened in 2007.
Donaldson, D-Kingston, disputed a previous statement by Bernardo in which she suggested Donaldson, while the Legislature’s chairman, also fired county employees. Continued...
During his tenure as chairman, Donaldson said, he fired only one county employee, Fawn Tantillo, a former county lawmaker who had resigned from the Legislature and was almost immediately appointed by then-Chairman Richard Gerentine, a Republican, to a position in county government. Tantillo is now Bernardo’s confidential secretary.
Donaldson said hiring and firing in the legislative offices was then a function of either the full Legislature or the Legislature’s clerk.
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