ANCRAM—The Town Board was in a giving spirit this holiday season—approving substantial raises for everyone on the payroll, themselves included.
At its December 16 meeting, the Town Board enacted a local law to increase the salaries of certain elected officials by 6%.
The law says the board “wishes to adjust certain elected officials’ salaries to reflect the 5.9% increases in the cost of living index between 3Q 2020 and 3Q 2021.”
No one commented on the law at the public hearing held just prior to the December meeting.
The Town Supervisor’s annual salary went from $4,950 in 2021 to $5,250 in 2022; Town Board members from $2,875 to $3,050; the Town Highway Superintendent from $60,500 to $64,100; and the Town Clerk from $32,000 to $33,950.
The local law will take effect 45 days after it was passed and is subject to a permissive referendum. This means, if a petition requesting a public vote on the matter is submitted before the deadline, then a vote must be conducted. The petition must be signed by 10% of voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election.
Everyone on the town payroll, whether their positions were included in the local law or not will receive at least a 6% raise in 2022. The raise percentages range from 6% to 106%. The assessor hit the jackpot percentage because he will be putting in a hefty amount of overtime working on a revaluation this year, according to the 2022 salary schedule.
If the town decides to open up its kids’ camp and pool this summer, the camp director and head life guard will see a 9.5% raise in pay to $23/hour, while camp counselors and life guards will get 10% more at $22/hour.
The board got into the raise-giving mood back in July 2021, when Highway Superintendent Jim Miller announced that his deputy superintendent had resigned to take a better paying job in the private sector.
‘The town is having trouble attracting people to fill these positions.’
Supervisor Art Bassin
Town of Ancram
In an effort to retain the highway staff it had and attract new people to fill vacancies, the board raised the salary of the deputy highway superintendent from $23.30 to $27/hour, a hike of 15.9%, according to the schedule of salaries listed in the Town’s 2022 budget. Other highway crew members were raised up to $26/hour.
Similarly, the salaries for secretaries and clerks, who are usually given 2% increases annually, were raised by 8% ($19.40 to $21/hour) “as a preemptive measure because the town is having trouble attracting people to fill these positions,” Town Supervisor Art Bassin said in a phone interview this week.
The Town also recently changed its highway department employee benefits policy to include payment of health insurance premiums for both eligible employees and their families, Mr. Bassin said.
The supervisor noted that in view of Ancram’s pay raises to Highway Department employees, other towns along with the Columbia County Highway Department, which currently has a sign posted outside its Greenport headquarters seeking people with a commercial drivers licenses, are also rethinking their pay rates.
Even with the pay raises in Ancram, property taxes will go down by 5% in 2022.
The idea of raising salaries by 6% was brought up by Councilwoman Madeleine Israel, who noted that Social Security payments and the inflation rate are both up by that amount.
Since Ms. Israel retired from the board at the end of 2021 after serving 12 years, she would not benefit from the increase, said Mr. Bassin. The supervisor and the town board usually get a “nominal” increase of about 2 or 3% annually, he noted.
Councilwoman Bonnie Hundt researched the salaries of officials in other towns and reported to the board that even with the 2022 salary increases, Ancram was “close to the bottom” of the salary list for all towns in the county.
The local law enacting the salary increases for certain elected officials was necessary because the new 6% total amount of the raises was not disclosed in the public notice for the preliminary budget public hearing, said Mr. Bassin. The amount disclosed in the notice was only 3%. The Town Board can raise the salaries paid to other town employees at any time at its discretion without the enactment of a local law.
The Town Board’s next meeting is January 20 at 7 p.m.