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West Seneca supervisor defends proposed 29% salary hike

West Seneca residents will have to wait another week to find out how much their supervisor will earn next year.

The Town Board postponed a decision on the 29 percent raise Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan has proposed for herself until a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers.

Meegan has proposed a $16,904 bump, from $63,096 to $80,000, in the town's 2017 tentative budget, which now totals $37.83 million. She is also proposing an increase in her stipend as budget director, from $500 to $2,000.

An uproar over the proposed raise continued on Monday night during an hourlong budget hearing when the Town Board again got an earful from irate residents, with one saying the raise was "unpopular, it is unrealistic, it's unfair to all of us who put you in office."

Many of the residents raised the same points they did at a budget hearing late last month, suggesting that Meegan should not raise her salary while in office.

But Meegan defended the raise, saying several positions in Town Hall had been eliminated since 2012, resulting in savings of over $300,000.

"These tasks have been taken on by myself, by our chief of staff, and they've been spread out to other people in the finance department," she said. "It's about the position, the supervisor's title. It warrants a salary that's on par with the duties and responsibilities."

She added that the supervisor's post has not seen a salary increase since 2005 and that she puts in full-time hours while her predecessors did not.

"This is the job that I dedicate my day to, 55 to 60 hours a week," she said. "We did not have that in the past."

Meegan also pointed to the town attorney's salary, which rose by $25,000 last year and is slated to go up by $5,000 next year, for a total of $30,000 over two years. "Not a word from the public," she said.

Indications are that Meegan will receive a raise, though likely not the 29 percent she has requested. That decision rests with the Town Board's two other members -- Councilmen William P. Hanley Jr. and Eugene Hart.

Meanwhile, the Town Board approved amendments to the proposed budget, which now carries a 2.92 percent increase in spending, down from the 4.53 percent Meegan originally proposed.

Salary increases for top positions in the Police Department have now been factored in after a new contract with rank-and-file officers was approved last month.

But $60,000 in savings were made by cuts to part-time salaries in the Buildings & Grounds and Recreation departments. Additional cuts were made in the Highway Department to items like parts and salt.

The budget as it stands now is under the state's imposed tax cap. The tax rate is now $18.86 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of $0.53 over this year's rate.

The Town Board at the special meeting Monday, Nov. 14 is expected to make a final determination on the supervisor's salary, then adopt a budget in time for the Nov. 20 deadline.

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