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Schenectady Mayor McCarthy gets earful over proposed salary bump

Schenectady Mayor McCarthy gets earful over proposed salary bump

Other management raises also criticized by taxpayers
Schenectady Mayor McCarthy gets earful over proposed salary bump
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy's proposed raise is raising hackles.
Photographer: GAZETTE FILE PHOTOGRAPH

SCHENECTADY — City residents raked the mayor over the coals for his proposed pay raise to himself. 

Mohamed Hafez called for City Council to reject Mayor Gary McCarthy’s request for a 16-percent boost at Tuesday’s public budget hearing.

“Simply he could resign and get a job somewhere else,” Hafez said.

McCarthy’s proposed 2020 budget asks City Council to bump his compensation from $96,700 to $112,485 annually. 

At least a half-dozen speakers criticized the request on Tuesday. 

The mayor said he’s simply bringing his salary, which hasn’t been adjusted in 12 years, in line with the city’s other management positions, and City Code dictates the mayor can receive the same pay raises given to top brass. 

“I’ve declined it in the past and it hasn’t happened in years,” McCarthy said in response to the criticism.

City Council has until Nov. 1 to adopt a spending plan, and continued to refine the budget and question department heads in a meeting Wednesday evening. 

McCarthy’s proposed salary does not stray wildly from his counterparts in the region: Albany’s mayor currently takes home a salary of $135,403, and Troy’s, $95,000.

The mayor wasn’t the only management official skewered at the hearing: Many speakers also criticized raises to management in general.

“I just don’t understand why there are so many percentages and why it’s not across the board,” Ellie Pepper said. 

A review of the city’s top 20 ranking officials reveals the majority are set to receive modest increases in the proposed budget.

But some are in line for a bigger bump than others. 

Director of Solid Waste Floyd Slater is scheduled for a 2 percent raise, for instance, but Director of Development Kristin Diotte is slated for a 5 percent increase.

James Clay, president of AFSCME Local 1037, claimed city employees are some of the lowest-paid municipal workers in the state.

“Why is it so hard to get employees extra money when it’s deserved?” Clay asked.

Employees covered by AFSCME, which covers Office of General Services workers, make between $17 to $21 an hour.

City Council approved their contract in 2018, giving employees a 2 percent raise for each of the four years covered by the contract, including a retroactive 2 percent raise for 2017. 

It also includes an additional $2 an hour for city Waste Department employees working in cold temperatures between December and March.

Temporary and seasonal workers are not included.

Sanitation worker Ashton Mayers said he picks up tons of trash daily for $12 an hour.

“We’re talking Schenectady pride, patriotism — you guys got to do better,” Mayers told the City Council.

Salaries for City Council are set at a collective $98,700 and are split among seven council members, with each receiving $14,100, including the council president. 

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