Councilwoman says Riverhead can’t afford $30K in raises

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members in Town Hall.
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members in Town Hall.

Riverhead Town Board members on Tuesday argued over whether to give salary increases to employees who will be taking on new responsibilities this year due to positions eliminated due to attrition.

The town offered a retirement incentive program for 2015 aimed at getting older, higher paid employees to retire. Eleven employees, including some department heads, took the offer. 

The board voted on eight resolutions Tuesday that gave promotions and raises to employees now be taking on additional responsibilities.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio voted against all of those resolutions and Councilman John Dunleavy voted against three of them, although all of them had enough votes to pass.

“There is about $30,000 in additional costs because of these raises” for 2015, Ms. Giglio said, saying that number includes not just salaries but other benefits for the eight employees who got promotions.

“I don’t think now is the time for the town to be giving raises,” she said. “People are doing more with less.”

As he casted his “no” votes, Mr. Dunleavy said the town should wait six months to see how those particular employees are doing in their new rolls before deciding whether to give them a raise. He likened it to a baseball player who gets a big raise after a good season, and then has an off season once he’s gotten the raise.

“I don’t think it’s that people are getting raises for no reason at all,” said Councilman George Gabrielsen. “We’re eliminating certain departments and some of those responsibilities have been picked up by other people.”

Overall, Mr. Gabrielsen said, the plan will result in big savings for the town.

“The additional compensation is a prudent thing to do,” Councilman Jim Wooten said.

Supervisor Sean Walter said that by not filling the retired employees’ positions and spreading that work around to other employees, the town is saving about $75,000 in 2015 after the raises.

“Given the economic state of the town, I can’t see giving promotions,” Ms. Giglio said.

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