Village Board Votes To Cut Salaries

Photo by Robin Weinstein

After increasing the role to a full-time position in 2012, the Village of New Paltz Board of trustees voted to have the position of village mayor moved back to a part-time job.

At the April 17 meeting, Village Trustees Sally Rhoads, Stewart Glenn, Brian Kimbiz and Ariana Basco voted not only to move the position of mayor to part time, but also voted to lower the salaries of the mayor and the trustee positions. This came after Village Mayor Jason West’s proposal to increase the mayoral salary by $13,000.

The changes will go into effect during the next fiscal year. The current salary for village mayor is $35,000. With the pay decrease, the yearly salary will be $22,500. The deputy mayor will now receive $7,365 a year while trustees will receive $6,232 a year.

Trustees Stewart Glenn and Brian Kimbiz both supported salary decreases last year and said their views have remained unchanged since that time. Kimbiz said the decrease in mayoral salary is due to the board being unimpressed with West’s performance.

“I was opposed to increasing salaries and I think it’s even more urgent now to move them back down,” Kimbiz said at the meeting. “Throughout the year, I felt we haven’t seen the results we should have seen from the pay raise. I would like to see the salaries moved back to where they were at the 2011 levels.”

Glenn said he was opposed to having the mayor’s salary raised during midterm due to the fact that candidates run knowing the salary they are due to receive and shouldn’t be looking for more. However, West argued that money isn’t a concern when running for office.

“When you run for these positions, the money isn’t why you’re running for the position,” West said.

West argued the board needs to keep higher salaries in order to weed out who is serious about being on the board and who is not, and to demonstrate the difficulty and seriousness of elected positions. On his blog 100 Ideas For New Paltz, West said several years ago that he believed the mayor and the town supervisor should have similar, full-time pay because of the time commitment.

“Both are 24/7 jobs, with equivalent duties and responsibilities,” West said on the blog. “Running for mayor should not be left only to the wealthy or retired.”

However, Glenn argued that cutting back the salaries of the trustees and the mayor would be fair and a “sign of good faith” for Village of New Paltz employees.

“I feel stronger about it now because we really are getting around to set the meetings with our employees and realizing we have an unsustainable plan for paying those employees in the future,” Glenn said. “How is it fair for us to ask our employees to negotiate and look at what can be paid for in their contracts while two years in a row we give ourselves raises?”

While the board did vote to decrease all of the salaries proposed and lower the role of mayor from full to part time, West said he believes the decision was made for the wrong reasons.

“I think it’s a huge mistake,” West said. “I think this decision is being made for more personal reasons, so obviously I’m having a very hard time with this.”