As the Town Board began planning for the next year's budget, board members approved a proposal to raise the supervisor's salary for next year by nearly 40 percent.
The board voted, 3-1, to raise the salary of Supervisor Fred Newlin from $28,761 to $39,500.
Opposed was Councilman Ernest Palmer, who opposed raising any salary at midterm. Newlin is currently in the middle of his third, two-year term. Councilman Alfonso Bax was absent.
Calling Newlin's part-time job more of a full-time commitment, Councilman Michael A. Johnson said he has talked about raising the salary for the past two years but last year made the proposal too late, because it has to be advertised when the board sets the public hearing for the budget.
"The average supervisor salary is $45,000, and $39,500 is still well below Grand Island and Lockport," Johnson said of the similar-sized towns, with similar-sized budgets.
Deputy Attorney David Boniello noted that many of the towns also offer benefits. In Lewiston, no part-time employees, including the supervisor or councilmen, receive benefits.
Johnson suggested the board consider making the supervisor a three-quarter-time position, because he is the town's chief fiscal officer and must attend every meeting and work on the Power Project relicensing proceeds for the Niagara River Greenway.
"I supported it two years ago, and I support it today," Councilman Sean A. Edwards said of the raise. "We need to reward people who take on the burden the supervisor takes on."
Palmer said he would support it if it was proposed for 2010.
Newlin said he thought the position would be part time when he first became supervisor in 2004. "But it is a $13 million budget with 100 employees," he said. "I guess that was naivete on my part. I started working 20 hours a week, and it has crept up to 30 and 40 hours a week."
The board will have a public hearing on the 2009 budget at 7 p.m. Monday in Town Hall, 1375 Ridge Road. The final budget must be adopted before Nov. 20.
In another matter, Newlin said he recently met with the new Western New York Power Authority boss, Richard M. Kessel, and acting New York Power Authority CEO Gil Quiniones.
"Kessel seems inclined to support local communities, and I took him at his word," said Newlin.
Newlin said that seven members of the Power Coalition currently split 22 megawatts as part of the relicensing agreement, but he said that by selling power into the open market, rather than the preferred market, coalition members could double the amount of money they make.
Newlin said that could raise from $5 million to $10 million per year.
He said they also talked about bringing cheap power to all of Western New York and to businesses.
"It may be a long shot, but he seems to be willing to work for us," Newlin said of his meeting with Kessel.
The board also officially approved spending $510,000 in greenway money to finish a $2 million escarpment pathway. The greenway funds will provide local matching funds to finish the project, which was funded with the help of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport.