Amherst, NY - Amherst Board members in a 3 to 2 vote approved a new 2017 town budget. The key number is $105,000 dollars worth of raises for elected officials.
Council members will now get a 37 percent boost -- up to $35,000 dollars -- for their pay. And the town supervisor position will get a 40 percent hike up to $105,000. There are also new increases for the town clerk, justices, and highway superintendent. These raises were all recommended by the town comptroller and human services director and are the first raises in 12 years for the elected officials.
2 On Your Side pressed the councilman who first proposed the increases for an explanation.
Councilman Steven Sanders replied that board members have taken on additional duties and the extra pay is justified.
"I think that relative to the town budget this is a very small amount of money. Over the past six years we have reduced the town's tax levy. Not just taxes...the town tax levy itself," he said.
Sanders also feels this move will help guarantee that quality candidates seek town positions with the enhanced pay.
Councilwoman Deborah Bruch Bucki voted against the pay hike in the budget. She told us, "I think as far as education and professions we have very qualified members of the board and we were able to attract them with the salaries as they were." She favors the idea of a Citizens Review Committee for any future salary hikes for town officials.
Supervisor Dr. Barry Weinstein also voted against the budget. The pay hikes were in an amendment which was added to his tentative budget plan back in September. He told 2 On Your Side, "I don't think we should be voting to raise our own salaries. I have said that from the get go. That's my problem with this. Because it's unseemly to vote for your own salary. I don't think that what we should do."