Town Board pay cut? Forget it

The Riverhead Town Board: (from left) Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and George Ganrielsen

Don’t expect Riverhead Town Board members to cut their salary or the deferred compensation packages that will add more than $4,000 to their pay next year.

At Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, Bill Walsh, president of the Suffolk County Civil Service Association Local 852, once again suggested that by giving up their own salaries, the Town Board could save enough money to bring back some of the six full-time employees whose jobs were eliminated in the adopted 2011 town budget.

He said the town council positions were meant to be part-time anyway.

Board members did not agree. Councilman George Gabrielsen said council positions are not part-time jobs, and that he often is at Town Hall until 9:30 p.m., while Councilman John Dunleavy asked Mr. Walsh if he advocated the same approach in Brookhaven Town, where his wife is a Town Board member and makes more than the other five council members by serving in a dual role as Deputy Town Supervisor.

Mr. Walsh said Brookhaven isn’t laying off any blue collar employees, but that if they were, “wife or no wife, I will be advocating the exact same thing to them.”

He said the union made concessions in Brookhaven that averted the loss of 146 jobs. But Mr. Dunleavy said there still are six highway department jobs slated for elimination in Brookhaven. Mr. Walsh said the union is still working to save those jobs.

“We made a proposal that was soundly rejected,” Mr. Walter said to Mr. Walsh. The supervisor had asked town employee unions to take a five percent salary cut, but that proposal was rejected, which Mr. Walter had said necessitated the need for layoffs.

Mr. Walsh also suggested that Mr. Walter give up the town car he drives. Mr. Walter said it’s cheaper for him to drive a town car than to receive 50 cents per mile for using his own car, and he said he will give up that reimbursement.

“I’m not a rich guy,” he said. “I’m not working for free. Don’t expect the town council to work for free.”

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