In what was the first regular meeting for the new Niskayuna Town Board in 2008, the board adopted an adjusted 2008 salary schedule, effectively cutting $24,000 from the budget by reducing a raise offered to employees that don’t belong to unions.
In a 3-to-2 vote, Tuesday, Jan. 30, that divided the all-Democratic board, new town Supervisor Joe Landry cast the deciding vote that gave approximately 80 non-represented town employees a uniform 2 percent raise. The original salary schedule called for a 2 percent raise in the first half of the year and an additional 2 percent raise in the second half of the year.
Landry called the cut a demonstration of fiscal restraint and noted that non-represented workers would retain their two longevity pay steps at 10 and 15 years.
The residents of Niskayuna have had severe tax increases in recent years, said Councilwoman Julie McDonnell, who voted with Landry to adopt the cut. `This salary schedule will save taxpayers $24,000 in the 2008 budget.`
McDonnell also noted that many other municipalities in the area are in the process of freezing assets and services as a result of economic difficulties.
Deputy Supervisor Liz Orzel Kasper echoed McDonnell’s sentiments and also voted to adopt the salary schedule.
`These are hard times,` said Kasper explaining her vote. `A raise of 2 percent and an additional 2 percent would really put salaries up for the following year. We need to tighten the belt on our spending.`
Councilwomen Diane O’Donnell and Maria Freund voted against the adoption of the salary schedule because they thought it singled out a fairly small group of employees.
`Some crew leaders will now be making less than the employees they supervise,` said O’Donnell. `This is not a large group of employees and they deserve greater than a 2 percent raise.`
Town officials said non-represented workers make up wide range of the workforce from department heads to clerical workers to dispatchers.
Freund suggested that the board should have considered other options.
`I would want to give the workers a more customary 3 percent increase,` Freund said.
The council majority said that after a review of the budget, this was one of the only areas where any real savings could be had.
`But this won’t be the only thing to be cut,` said Kasper, who said the board will continue to be diligent in their effort to find savings in the 2008 budget.“