Ossenfort’s veto stands after unanimous vote

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort’s veto of the proposed personnel policy for non-union county employees will stand.

County legislators voted unanimously Tuesday night not to override Ossenfort’s veto. All eight legislators present voted against overriding the veto. District 3 Legislator Roy S. Dimond was absent.

Two weeks ago, Legislator Barbara Wheeler removed two controversial provisions–health insurance for part-time county employees and stipends for legislators appointed to chair committees from the policy before presenting it to legislators. Legislature Chairman Thomas L. Quackenbush proposed an amendment restoring the provisions. The amendment passed by a 6-3 count; Wheeler, Legislator John M. Duchessi and Legislator Joseph M. Isabel voted against it. The amended resolution, which included health insurance for part-time employees and stipends for committee chairs, passed by the same 6-3 vote; Wheeler, Duchessi and Isabel again voted no.

County Attorney Douglas E. Landon told legislators they had 30 days from the receipt of Ossenfort’s veto message to act on a potential override. The veto message, in the form of a letter from Ossenfort to Legislative Clerk Cheryl Reese, was dated Oct. 24.

“While the great majority of the modifications are an improvement upon the previous policy, I am specifically opposed to the provisions providing stipends for legislators during their current term, as well as the addition of health insurance for part-time non-bargaining employees that would include legislators,” Ossenfort wrote. “[The veto] brings forth two important points. First, it highlights the newfound balance in our charter form of government, and secondly, the importance of adhering to the legislative committee process.”

Wheeler said the decision not to override Ossenfort’s veto sends the process “back to square one.” She said she and Ossenfort were “of like minds” concerning the removal of the two provisions. The Personnel Committee will meet next week to determine what do next.

“I’m pleased that my first veto was supported,” Ossenfort said after the meeting. “This puts the controversy associated with the policy behind us.”

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.