By Russ Tarby
Elected village officials in Liverpool have not had a raise for 16 years.
As the trustees approved a 2017-18 general fund budget of $2,469,109 at their April 13 meeting, Trustee Christina Fadden Fitch suggested that they consider the possibility of approving nominal raises.
“This is the right time to talk about it,” Fitch said.
Trustees presently earn annual salaries of $4,000 while the mayor earns $8,000.
The last time those office-holders received raises was in 2001, when trustees’ salaries went from $3,000 annually to $4,000, and the mayor’s salary jumped from $6,000 to $8,000.
Those raises came shortly after Mayor Marlene Ward first took office.
Fitch studied the pay scales of office-holders in communities such as Baldwinsville, Minoa, Solvay and North Syracuse and said Liverpool lagged behind.
For instance, the mayor of Baldwinsville makes $15,000 a year, while each of the six trustees are paid more than $5,400 annually.
Fitch suggested Liverpool consider pay hikes of $250 or $500 for trustees and $500 or $1,000 for the mayor and the village justice (who currently earns $12,981 each year).
“If we want to be able to recruit new people,” she said, “the village should think about these pay levels.”
Mayor Gary White agreed.
“We’re probably the lowest-compensated board in the county,” White said. “No one wants to talk about giving yourself a raise, but this work requires a lot of responsibility. It takes a lot of time and commitment, and it limits your ability to earn” from any other job you may have.
Trustee Dennis Hebert said he’d rather see raises go to village employees instead of elected officials. “I’ve always looked at this as a labor of love,” Hebert said. “I’ve never considered money.”
Zoning Board Chairman Mike Romano, who attended the April 13 meeting, pointed out that members of the zoning board and planning board all serve voluntarily, without any compensation from the village.
The mayor said he was unopposed to “a small raise, maybe phased in over two or three years.” The funds are currently available, he said, in a budget contingency line. If the raises are approved, he said, there would be no increase in village taxes.
“But I would really like to hear from village residents to see what they think about it,” White said.
No action was taken on the matter, which will likely be discussed at upcoming village board meetings.
“I just wanted to float it out there,” Fitch said, “but we have to ask the public.”
At the trustees’ April 13 meeting, Liverpool Police Chief Donald Morris reported his department’s activity during the month of March.
Last month LPD officers made 234 traffic stops and issued 161 citations for violations of the state’s vehicle and traffic laws, made two arrests for driving while intoxicated and investigated 14 accidents.
Officers also wrote two parking tickets and made 174 residential property checks while responding a total of 499 incidents and calls for service.
The department made 30 arrests last month on a total of 34 criminal charges.