AMHERST, N.Y. -- Some board members in the Town of Amherst are seeking raises for themselves and the town supervisor -- but they don't plan on raising taxes in order to do that.
They want to pay for these raises, which would add more than $100,000 to the town's budget, using surplus funds from the town's sewer fund.
The town board voted 3-2 to add the proposed salary increases to the tentative 2017 budget Monday night. Elected officials including the town supervisor, deputy supervisor, town board members, town clerk, highway superintendent and town justices would all receive raises in 2017 if the plan is approved.
Although taxes would not be raised to fund the salary increases, many town residents voiced concerns about this plan at a hearing Monday night. During the public hearing on the town's budget, no one from the audience who spoke up supported the raises.
The plan would use the sewer account's surplus funds to increase the salary for part time council members from $25,500 a year to $35,000. Deputy Supervisor Steven Sanders was a co-sponsor of the resolution and said it's necessary to attract the best qualified candidates. He also said board members have not had a raise in 26 years.
Amherst Councilmember Deborah Bruch Bucki voted against the raise proposal Monday night.
"Do you think that extra money could be used to fix infrastructure problems?" asked 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik.
"That's exactly what I think. I think the money is dedicated to that purpose. It may technically be permitted to use the money in this way, but I would like the town attorney's office to investigate the legality of that before we proceed forward," said Bucki.
Bucki's resolution to have the town attorney look into the legality of the salary increase resolution failed to get a second and was not voted on Monday night. She also wanted to form a Citizens' Salary Review Commission to recommend salaries for 2018 and periodic cost-of-living adjustments for Amherst elected officials' salaries for years beyond 2018. That proposed amendment also failed to get a second Monday night.
The next Amherst budget hearing is October 19. The final budget hearing is November 1. The vote is also scheduled for November 1.