Supervisor’s Budget for 2015 Raises Questions of Favoritism

rctThe proposed 2015 budget for the Town of Ramapo, submitted by Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, contains a stipend payment to a board member above and beyond what others are receiving. There will be a public hearing on the budget this Thursday night, November 6, at 7 p.m. in Ramapo Town Hall.

On page 53 of the budget, there is a $4,000 stipend to Councilmember Brendel Logan, over and above the pay she receives for serving on the Town Board. This additional salary is provided to Logan for her services as “liaison to the Ramapo Housing Authority.” The problem is, Ramapo Councilman Daniel Friedman asserts, Logan has never, in the two years she has allegedly held this position, reported back to the Board about Housing Authority issues, nor has anyone at the Housing Authority ever witnessed her presence there. Yet, St. Lawrence has persisted in maintaining this payment.

Additionally, on page 62, the list of funding for nonprofits and social service agencies with whom the town contracts are listed. Of all the agencies, only the “RCDC Senior Meal Program” received a whopping 200 percent increase in funding, from $5,000 a year to $15,000 a year. After reviewing all the contract agencies and finding an increase only for this one program, it was discovered that Brendel Logan is an employee of RCDC as well as a Board member. It is also unknown if her salary there is linked to any funding she may be able to procure for RCDC. Such a singular show of favoritism toward the employer of one of the Board members raises questions about St. Lawrence’s relationship with Logan.

Similarly, on page 67, Councilwoman Logan’s husband, Bernard Charles, is slated to be awarded a 9 percent pay increase—from just over $45,000 in 2014 to just over $50,000 for 2015—for his position as Recreation Coordinator, a job which Friedman asserts Charles has not fulfilled. Earlier this year, Friedman had successfully opposed the hiring of Charles in a different position St. Lawrence had allegedly created just for him as a favor to Logan. Incidentally, Bernard Charles is also a member of the East Ramapo School Board.

In all, tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars are being doled out for the benefit of a single board member in the form of a job, pay increases, and funding increases for her boss. When asked, Friedman raised questions about the impropriety of these line items, and noted that in the past, Logan made “eye-opening” requests for jobs or benefits for herself and her family.

Friedman has posted the entire budget on his social media accounts, and hopes that Ramapo residents will have a chance to review it before the public hearing, which is scheduled for Thursday night. He has pledged to oppose the budget as submitted, if these expenditures benefiting Councilwoman Logan and her family are not removed.

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