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St. Lawrence County assistant district attorneys keep their salary increases

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CANTON — An effort by some St. Lawrence County Republican legislators to rescind raises for assistant district attorneys on procedural grounds fell flat Monday night.

The board decided by a vote of 10-4 on June 2 to increase the salaries of eight positions. The steepest increase was for Chief Assistant District Attorney David E. Haggard, whose salary rose from $80,816 to $98,575.

The motion should have come under suspension of the rules, said Legislator Daniel F. Parker, R-Potsdam, adding that the board ignored recommendations made by a management compensation committee.

Legislator Gregory M. Paquin, D-Massena, declared the procedural questions irrelevant and part of campaign posturing.

“Let the silly season begin,” he said.

The purpose of the raises was to bring stability to the District Attorney’s Office and it did not matter how they were passed, Mr. Paquin said.

Mr. Parker’s motion could be argued regardless of how the raises were passed, county attorney Michael C. Crowe said.

Whether the raises were passed legally or not, the board continually bypasses its own procedures, Legislator Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon, said.

“We do it time and time again,” he said.

But Legislator Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Helena, said the board listens to the recommendations of its committees, but does not have to follow them.

Legislative Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, said the procedural details no longer mattered.

“I think it’s a moot point at this juncture,” he said. “I think we should just move forward.”

Legislator Scott M. Sutherland, R-Pierrepont, said the board was spending too much time debating the fine points of procedure. Legislators should not micromanage how elected county officials use their budgets, he said. “They should be able to spend it how they see fit,” he said. “They should have some discretion in spending.”

Rescinding the raises and substituting them with a lower salary increase was defeated 10-5. Legislators in favor of rescinding the raises were Kevin D., Acres, R-Madrid, Mr. Parker, Mr. Akins, Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, and Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler.

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