There’s no doubt that being a town supervisor in a large community takes a lot of time and hard work.
But before the Niskayuna Town Board grants a request by Town Supervisor Jaime Puccioni for a hefty $4,700 annual pay raise, it should take the time to investigate whether the job has changed significantly since Puccioni took office 10 months ago and whether it demands more money from taxpayers.
The Town Board is expected to discuss the raise at its budget meeting today (Wednesday, Oct. 12) at 4 p.m.
There are a number of reasons why the board should hold off on granting the request.
First, despite Puccioni’s claim that the raise represents a “small, incremental increase,” that’s not really the case. Bumping her pay from $53,800 to $58,500 represents an increase of 8.7%. That’s neither small nor incremental, especially compared to the average public or private sector pay increase.
When Puccioni ran for the position last year, she knew what the salary was. If she didn’t want to work for that level of pay or didn’t realize how much time the job would require, she shouldn’t have run for it.
Puccioni justifies her request by saying she routinely puts in at least 30 hours a week and that the job should be a full-time position.
But as with any new job, there’s a learning curve. Having never served in elected public office before, she’s probably having to put in more time than a more experienced government official might need. Once she learns the ins and outs of the job and how to better manage the supervisor’s office and her own time more efficiently, it’s possible she might not need to spend as much time doing it.
If the supervisor’s job has changed significantly in the short time Puccioni has been in office, then town officials need to reconsider the salary for the position as a whole.
What is Puccioni required to do differently than her predecessors did? What new duties and responsibilities has she assumed? What new time commitments justify changing the rate of pay? Board members need to determine that before approving a pay increase.
Finally, given Niskayuna’s already high tax burden, compounded by the financial struggles faced by many taxpayers, now seems like an odd time to grant the supervisor a big pay increase while others are suffering.
If you’re a town worker or an average town taxpayer, are you getting annual 8.7% “incremental” salary increases? We doubt it.
Board members should be focusing on lowering expenses in the upcoming budget, not raising them. If nothing else, town board members should wait until economic conditions improve before granting such a request.
We understand why the supervisor feels she deserves a pay raise.
But until the town can justify the increase based on a change of responsibilities or a change in the town’s financial circumstances, the supervisor should have to accept the pay that was set when she ran for the job.