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Town Board approves about $63K in salary increases for department heads

The Riverhead Town Board doled out salary increases to a number of department heads and appointed officials at its annual organizational meeting Tuesday, where it also gave promotions and salary reassignments to some employees, which resulted in salary increases. 

Board members defended the salary increases.

“It’s kind of a double edged sword,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard. “We are constantly battling with the private sector who are stealing people from the public sector.”

He said because of this the town tries its best to retain those employees.

He said that when an employee leaves the town, they end up paying more for the replacement. 

Department heads also are not part of the union, “so nobody negotiates for them and gives them automatic raises like the union does,” he said. 

The other workers are part of the union, which negotiates for them, and gets them raises every year, Mr. Hubbard said.

“There are times when many of our department heads go three, four and sometimes even longer (years) without an increase,” he said. “Sometimes we have to play catchup a little bit.”

He said the increases approved Tuesday “amounted to about $63,000 total out of a $58 million budget.” 

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz was among the employees to receive a salary bump. Mr. Kozakiewicz said last month he plans to retire by the end of January.

Resident John McAuliff said the lower-paid employees are more dramatically effected by cost of living increases. He asked if the town compared its salaries with neighboring towns like Southold.

“We’re below them usually,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. 

“We’re middle of the pack at best,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Councilman Frank Beyrodt added: “There was not a raise that we deliberated on that was not deserved.”

He said in many cases, the town’s department heads saved the town money by taking on added responsibilities. He cited town engineer Drew Dillingham as an example.

“For the next 10 years, he is going to be in charge of the recycling edicts of New York State,” Mr. Beyrodt said. He said it would probably cost the town more to “sub that out to another person, it probably would have cost us four or five times that much.”

Among the increases awarded Tuesday were:

• Chief Accountant Bill Rothaar got a 7.5% increase on his $162,956 salary. 

• Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz got a 5% increase on his $139,480 salary. 

• Town Engineer Drew Dillingham got a $10,000 increase on his $124,482 salary.    

• Community Development director Dawn Thomas gave a 7.5% increase on her $122,042 salary.

• Deputy Town Attorney Ann Marie Prudenti got a 7.5% increase on her $128,568 salary.

• Deputy Town Attorney Dan McCormick got a 5% raise on his $119,932 salary.

• Deputy Town Attorney Erik Howard got a 5% raise on his $97,894 salary.

• Principal Accountant Caitlin Buthmann got a 5% increase on her $97,894 salary.