Hey! What happened to the pay cuts promised by town councilmen?

04/29/2010 12:00 AM |

“We are in a budget crisis right now,” Councilman John Dunleavy said during a budget work session on Nov. 12. “I’m willing to take a 5 percent decrease in my salary next year to help out, but I think the department heads have to look at their salaries and say, listen, let’s reduce this year, and let’s try to help the town out.”

Shortly after he said that, Councilmen Jim Wooten and George Gabrielsen — who, like Mr. Dunleavy, are Republicans — also agreed to take 5 percent pay cuts for 2010.

“The budget’s pretty much cut to the bone now,” Mr. Wooten said at the time. “I’ll give 5 percent of my salary back. It’s a little bit, but every little bit helps.

As it turns out, neither Mr. Dunleavy not Mr. Wooten took the 5 percent salary reduction this year, according to information the News-Review requested from town finance administrator Bill Rothaar. He said only Mr. Gabrielsen took the 5 percent cut in his 2010 town council salary of $47,597, reducing it by $2,379.

Mr. Gabrielsen, a farmer, was critical of his fellow board members.

“If this is what you promised people, then you honor it,” he said. “It’s your responsibility to the public.”

“I’ll be truthful,” Mr. Wooten explained this week. “I got caught up in the swell of it. I said that before I really conferred with my wife and realized, I can’t knock 5 percent off my pay.”

Mr. Wooten, who is a retired town police officer like Mr. Dunleavy and receives a pension, said that he does not have another job, unlike some of the other town board members.

“The Town Board is my full-time job,” he said. “I gave up my job driving a bus and I don’t have a farm or a law practice or a consulting business. My best intentions were to take a cut, but after sitting down with my wife and looking at our expenses, it’s too much to give up. I don’t want to have to take another job and treat the town council job like a part-time job.”

Mr. Dunleavy acknowledged that he also didn’t take the 5 percent salary cut, but he said that he and Mr. Wooten do not receive health insurance from the town because they already receive health insurance as retired town police officers.

“We’re giving back more because of the health insurance, and I figured that’s a lot more than what the 5 percent cut comes to,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “Health insurance is a big cost.”

Supervisor Sean Walter, a practicing attorney, and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who runs a consulting business, were not on the board at the time of the Nov. 12 meeting and, as such, did not participate in the discussion about salary givebacks.

According to Mr. Rothaar, Mr. Walter is paying 25 percent of his own health insurance, which amounts to $4,325, and Ms. Giglio gave up a life insurance annuity deferred compensation benefit, which was worth $4,147 for 2010.

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