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Dunkirk: Looming deficit is no big worry

What were Dunkirk Common Council members thinking?

With every warning light flashing bright red, council members unanimously approved a $7,500 raise for a paralegal in the city attorney’s office despite a possible $1 million deficit created by the COVID-19 pandemic and warnings from the city’s fiscal affairs officer, city treasurer, city attorney and Mayor Willie Rosas.

“I just really implore you to think twice about every single dollar because we are looking at possibly having to borrow for our deficit,” Marsha Beach, city fiscal affairs officer, said during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

First Ward Councilman Donald Williams Jr. said the increase is justified because of a raise approved earlier in the year for Development Director Rebecca Wurster. But there is an important distinction between Wurster’s raise and the paralegal’s raise. Wurster isn’t part of a union while the paralegal will be, which means the $7,500 raise given this year will grow each and every year the paralegal works for Dunkirk.

Williams also argued that the raise makes sense because it will be paid from money saved from positions eliminated earlier this year. If this were a typical year Williams’ point may be valid, but as we all know this is anything but a typical year. Staring a $1 million deficit in the face, the city needs to be saving every single penny it can, not spending every single penny as fast as it comes in.

Mayor Wilfred Rosas issued a veto late last week. It was the right move. But if council did not get it right the first time, it definitely will not a second.

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