NISKAYUNA — A proposed salary hike for the position of town supervisor in Niskayuna has been removed from the final 2023 budget proposal the Town Board is set to vote on during its meeting Thursday.
The preliminary town budget, released on Oct. 19, included a $4,700 raise for the supervisor, with a proposed salary boost from the current rate of $53,800 to $58,500 in 2023. At the town’s public budget hearing on Oct. 25, current Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said she was still weighing the proposal to raise her salary in 2023.
The supervisor subsequently announced on Nov. 11 that she had decided to remove the salary increase from the final budget.
“I came to this decision after examining the issue thoroughly and thoughtfully, conferring with my board colleagues and others, and carefully weighing the many considerations,” Puccioni noted in a statement. “In the end, compensating the town supervisor at a rate that is commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of the office is an important policy that should reach beyond this immediate budget and should invest in a long-term solution.”
Puccioni said that she will recommend that the town form a committee to study the issue over the next year, in advance of the 2024 budget cycle next fall.
“The 2024 goal will give the committee ample time to examine the issue, do the research, weigh the considerations and share their findings with the public,” Puccioni said. “And as the findings will not be implemented until after the next election, the supervisor’s salary will not be tied to any individual or political party.”
The Niskayuna supervisor’s salary has remained static since 2002.
Town Board Member Bill McPartlon said he is in favor of raising the supervisor’s salary in order for the town to remain competitive when attracting candidates for the post.
“We’ve all appreciated the public’s feedback throughout this process,” McPartlon declared in a statement. “I thought it was wise and brave of Supervisor Puccioni to begin this discussion during the budget season as the public needs to understand the important policy implications of restricting qualification for the office of the Niskayuna Town Supervisor to only those with the financial wherewithal to afford to work in a 2022 market for a 2002 salary. It’s just not enough compensation for most qualified applicants.”
Town Board Member Jessica Brennan said she was in favor of forming a committee to explore raising the supervisor’s salary moving forward.
“Most of the feedback that I received over the last month and a half was surprising from concerned residents,” Brennan noted. “No one who spoke to me was aware that the Town Supervisor was paid only $53,800. I think that this was a valuable discussion and I thank Supervisor Puccioni for raising the issue. I agree that we should form a committee to study the salary issue and follow necessary recommendations for 2024.”
The board will vote on the proposed budget at its meeting at Town Hall on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The proposed 2023 spending plan includes $19,299,041 in expenditures between the general and highway funds and includes a 2.72% homestead tax rate, flat compared to last year’s rate.
The final proposed budget includes $250,000 appropriated from the general fund balance, down from the $300,000 budgeted in the preliminary plan.
Niskayuna Comptroller Beth Greenwood noted that the $50,000 decrease reflects changes in the interest rate and interest earned since the preliminary budget was released in October.
Town Board Member Jason Moskowitz, the sole Republican on the council, said he was heartened that the supervisor’s salary would not be raised in 2023.
“I am happy to see that the supervisor has decided not to move forward with a salary increase at this time,” Moskowitz said on Monday. “I spoke out against including any raise in the 2023 budget because I believe it is the taxpayers who should have the final say. Those taxpayers are who we work for and should be advocating for. I look forward to a process in which facts and evidence justifying this change are presented for consideration.”