Southold elected officials won’t take pay raises

11/17/2010 5:55 PM |

Proposed raises for Southold’s elected officials have been scrapped for 2011, and the town plans to use the money to put back trash cans at road ends and beaches.
The Town Board adopted a $38.6 million 2011 budget Tuesday night. It deletes raises first proposed in Supervisor Scott Russell’s initial draft budget and retained when the Town Board adopted a preliminary budget.
But Mr. Russell told residents at a work session Tuesday morning that he’d heard the complaints of those who said it was unfair to give 4 percent raises to elected officials at a time when the town was trying to cut back.
The raises would have increased the supervisor’s salary from $86,992 to $90,472 and board members’ salaries from $30,067 to $31,270. Town justices, the town clerk, superintendent of highways, tax receiver, assessors and trustees would have received similar pay hikes.
“Some people said, ‘Whether you deserve it or not, given the current economic climate, we should keep what we had’ for a salary,” Mr. Russell said at the work session.
“I heard a mixed-bag reaction,” said Councilman Al Krupski “Some people said you absolutely deserve it and some said, ‘You’re cutting everything else.’ ”
Councilman Bill Ruland, who had been vocally opposed to the salary increases since they were first proposed, said it was important that the town maintain services for residents, particularly seniors, as a top priority, not giving raises to public officials.
The final budget also excludes raises for appointed members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board that were included in the earlier budgets plans.
Mr. Russell said that the money the town would save by nixing the raises — about $37,000 — would not be enough to affect next year’s projected tax increase of 1.93 percent, even if it were eliminated outright from the budget. He said he would reallocate the money to cover overtime costs for emptying trash cans at road ends and to invest in more cans and in lids to keep seagulls and raccoons from raiding them.
The town removed the trash cans at the end of the summer season to reduce the cost of picking up the garbage year-round, but Mr. Russell announced last week that he planned to reinstate the program after people began leaving their garbage on the beaches, creating just as much work for town employees as when the cans were there.
The budget changes generated a mixed reaction at the board’s evening session, held at Peconic Landing in Greenport. Benja Schwartz of Cutchogue said he would have preferred the savings from cutting the raises to have been used to decrease taxes, even by a minimal amount. Peconic resident Hugh Switzer said he believed elected officials deserved “at least what was put in the budget.”
East Marion resident James Spanos said he’d researched the salaries of elected officials in other East End towns and found that Southold’s are on the low end.
“The pay this board is getting is undervalued,” he said.



9 Comment

  • Of course you need to look at both sides. Do the Town Officials deserve raises, and can the taxpayers afford to pay higher taxes. But math can be misleading when economics and social issues are involved. The bottom line is that the Town Board does get it. Taking the money from the raises and allocating it to an unspecified budget line allegedly for garbage can lids is absurd.

    The amount of the proposed raises was going to be paid to increase specified salaries by 4%. Thus is was an amount certain. The Town Board never determined the total cost of the raises. The Supervisor made a rough estimate of just under $40,000. Although the salaries expense was cancelled, the money was reallocated to pay for overtime to empty trash cans at road ends and to buy lids for the trash cans. The cost of the lids and trash cans was never even estimated.

    The important point is that any given budget change is a drop in the bucket. Many changes would be even less than drops. Yet, when all those drops (or drips) are added up, the numbers do become real and meaningful.

    The nature of government is not personal, it is public. The Supervisor and Town Board claim to count every dollar, but somehow $40,000 is just spare change. No wonder taxes are so high.

  • I meant The bottom line is that the Town Board does not get it.

    I think people should pick up their own garbage. And I would be happy if town officials get raises, but taxes are too high. And if the Town Board keeps doing business as usual there is no lettup in sight.

    It is impossible if you don’t think.

    PS I proposed that the total amount of the raises be divided equally so that the current disparity would be lessened instead of increased. Those raises I would vote for!

  • The only thing i would disagree with is, it wasn’t the Supervisor who decided to reinstate the garbage cans it was the Boards decision.

  • actually the supervisor suggested to restore the cans and the board agreed.

  • I’d give them the raise which amounted to $37,000. But who in their right mind would spend $230,000 on a fuel management system. Check resolution# 2010-800 on southold


  • SCOTT RUSSELL IS god. no pay raises. is this the only town in the world that hasnt. you are blowing my mind.

  • I RETRACT MY ABOVE COMMENT. scott IS NOT A god—–quite the opposite(time and research) i hope you didnt already take the raise “under the table”. i think NOW perhaps you think you blow your own mind!