The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors laid some of the final groundwork for the new government set to take over Jan. 1.
When voters approved the charter revision in November, they had only a basic understanding of what the new government would look like. The current board of 15 town and city supervisors will be replaced by a nine-member legislature and an elected executive to lead daily operations county wide.
The charter restructuring passed by a healthy margin, but since then current supervisors have been working to get the finer points of the plan nailed down.
Two major points, the exact shape of the nine new legislative districts and salaries of the new positions, were decided at Tuesday night’s full board meeting.
“Figuring out the legislative districts was key,” said Senior Planner Doug Greene. “It was a well-discussed issue.”
Greene sat in on all meetings of the commission charged with writing the new government charter and was in charge of plotting out the new electoral district maps. He said the basic layout was settled upon long ago, but the board took until Tuesday night to agree on a number of small adjustments.
Over the course of the approval process, officials at the Board of Elections noticed that a few oversights would create a number of small voting districts making for inefficient use of polling employees.
“They were more tweaks than changes,” he said.
The vast majority of those tweaks moved 242 Amsterdam residents around to new districts to streamline borders. Three residents were also moved in both Fort Plain and the town of Palatine.
With the districts set, potential candidates will actually know where they’ll be running, and thanks to another board decision they’ll know their potential salaries.
Eight of the nine legislators will be paid $10,000 a year and the chair will get $15,000 — the same arrangement set for the current board. The executive will get a salary of $85,000.
“I’m happy with the salaries,” said Amsterdam 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Chiara.
Chiara was the only supervisor to vote with 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeffrey Stark earlier this month, when Stark proposed that the legislators get $9,500 and the executive $77,000, making the new government cost the same as the current one.
“Running for office shouldn’t be about the money,” Chiara said, “It should be about making the county a better place.”
Even so, he said the approved salaries are reasonable.
“Some people have said $85,000 won’t attract any qualified executives,” he continued. “If that’s true it’s pretty sad, but in this county, that’s a better-than-fair salary.”
According to Greene, much of the work left to be done is in the hands of the Board of Elections. It will have to draft the official maps, set polling stations and get ready to deal with petitions of candidacy.
“They have a lot of work to do,” he said.
For information and an exact map of legislative districts, visit www.co.montgomery.ny.us.