Shandaken Supervisor gets small raise; budget approved with minimal tax hike
By Jay Braman Jr.
After drawing criticism last month for proposing a large raise for himself, Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley dialed that plan back a little in time for the public hearing on his tentative 2014 spending plan.
Even though he lowered that raise from the previous $5,000 increase to a $3,000 bump, some in attendance at the public hearing on the budget still called for more of a drop.
Barbara Lambacca, a Phoenicia resident, asked that the town board consider the fact that, in addition to his current, $30,000 salary, Stanley also has use of a town vehicle not only for town business but for personal use. Lambacca felt this perk was probably at least equal in value to the raise Stanley was looking for and she wanted it to be considered as compensation for the part- time job of town supervisor.
But Big Indian resident Gary Gailes spoke in support of the raise, warning that “you get what you pay for.”
Gailes also noted that it has long been a common practice for supervisors in town to have use of a car and further noted that a few years back when the economy first went bad, there was a town board decision to actually lower the supervisor’s salary. The way Gailes sees it, the current raise is only getting the salary back to where it was back then.
Favored the increase
Other Stanley supporters spoke in favor of the raise, but councilman Vince Bernstein said it was not fair to give a 10 percent increase to the supervisor when it is common for town employees like the police and the highway workers to get only one, two or three percent raises. Bernstein said that giving Stanley such a raise would make it hard to negotiate with those employees next time around.
He also suggested that perhaps Stanley, who was just re-elected to a second term after running unopposed, should have made it clear much sooner that he wanted the increase. The way Bernstein sees it, Stanley knew what the job entailed and he knew what the salary was when he decided to run again.
Stanley himself defended the raise, saying that as supervisor he has brought in budgets that have very small tax increases compared to his predecessors and that is due, in part, to the effort he puts in to fighting to keep the wage increases of the other employees as low as possible and also fighting to make those same employees contribute more to their benefits.
“I look at the bottom line,” he said.
Reading from a prepared statement, Stanley explained the budget in broad strokes. “Overall, we have a budget that shows a spending plan increase of only 0.06 percent or $1,465 over last year’s figure of $2,358,962,” he said. “That relates to a tax increase of 0.23 percent or $3,945 over last year’s total general taxes of $1,686,832. On the highway we have an increase of 2.06 percent or $42,344 over last year’s figure of $2,056,597 that relates to a tax increase of 0.67 percent or $9,127 over last year’s figure of $1,360,338. Adding in all of the fire, water and lighting districts, the overall tax increase is due to be roughly 0.60 percent. So, as an example: a homeowner who paid $1,000 in town taxes last year, would pay $1,006 this coming year.”
The budget, with a $3,000 raise for Stanley, barely passed with Stanley and lame duck board members Jack Jordan and Doris Bartlett voting in favor. Bernstein voted against. He was joined by councilman Alfie Higley.