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Public hearing March 6 to increase highway superintendent salary

02/25/2018 6:02 AM |

Should the Town Highway Superintendent’s salary be increased by $20,000?

That will be the subject of a March 6 public hearing before the Riverhead Town Board at its 2 p.m. meeting that day.

The proposed increase would only apply to 2018, and the $20,000 would be pro-rated to reflect when the increase begins.

Current Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson’s annual salary this year is $94,803, but he has taken on other responsibilities as well, including acting as the department head of the municipal garage, the yard waste facility and the sanitation department, according to Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

She is opposed to giving the increase as part of the highway superintendent’s salary, and instead feels it should be paid out as a stipend specifically for Mr. Woodson, so that further highway superintendents don’t get the increase without doing the extra work.

Municipal garage, yard waste and sanitation all used to be headed by John Reeve until he retired several years ago, and the Town Board reassigned those positions to other un-elected department heads who were paid stipends. Mr. Woodson is an elected official, and his salary must be set by resolution at the beginning of the year. Any increase requires a public hearing, according to state law.

The municipal garage had been assigned to former supervisor Sean Walter’s Chief of Staff, Larry Levy, who left that position when Mr. Walter left office at the end of 2017.

The public hearing notice only specifies the municipal garage work.

Ms. Giglio and Councilman Jim Wooten both voted against even having the public hearing.

“There’s other ways to go on this,” Mr. Wooten said.

The vote to hold the hearing passed 3-2.

The proposal, if adopted, would be subject to a permissive referendum, where a petition with a certain number of signatures opposed to the plan could force a public vote on the increase.

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