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Grand Island board members debate procedure on pay increases

A motion to appoint an assistant assessor during Monday evening’s Grand Island Town Board meeting led to a larger discussion about how the town spends money on raises for employees.

The motion to approve Jackie McGinty as the assistant assessor at a pay increase was approved by the board, but not without dissent from Councilman Michael Madigan, who argued that appointments should be made at budget time. When the motion came up in the meeting, Madigan countered with a motion to table it pending further discussion. His motion was not seconded, however.

“I think we need to talk about the bigger, broader issue, not the individual issue – just to gain alignment on the board, in how we deal with any kind of a promotion or increase in pay outside of the budgeting area,” he said.

Madigan said that although pay increases may seem small on an individual basis, they add up, and make passing a budget under the 2 percent tax cap more difficult.

Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray agreed that pay raises should be discussed as part of budgeting, but argued that McGinty was an exception to that because of the circumstances surrounding the promotion. McMurray proposed shutting down any promotions or pay increases until budget time, after McGinty was appointed.

“I think what Mike is saying, and it’s a really good point, is that these type of decisions should not be made ad hoc,” he said.

Madigan also said the specific job, which is “intense” for 12 weeks during assessment time one out of every four years, may not qualify for a pay increase.

“I have a lot of questions and concerns,” he said after the meeting. “I’m not convinced it warrants an increase.”

McMurray said McGinty was working outside of the scope of her current job, and was deserving of the increase.

The terms of the appointment include pay of $21 per hour, and the stipulation that McGinty pass an Erie County civil service exam the next time it is offered. The raise will take effect on a provisional basis until McGinty passes the exam.