Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick voted Monday against a $10,000 raise for herself, joining three other Town Board members who rejected a proposed raise for her and two other town officials.
Council Members Jane S. Woodward and Bob Brewer introduced a measure at the Town Board meeting to raise the supervisor's salary to $75,000; the town clerk's salary to $65,000, an increase of $10,000; and the highway superintendent's salary to $65,000, an increase of less than $3,000. The raises would have taken effect in January.
Elected officials in Amherst have not had a raise in 11 years, according to Woodward and Brewer. And in order to attract qualified people to those posts, a salary increase is necessary to be competitive with the private sector, they argued.
"It's not responsible to let salaries become so undervalued over time," Brewer said. "This (town) is, for all practical purposes, a $90 million corporation with 1,300 people. To get qualified and capable people at all interested in this job, we have to compete. Sixty-five thousand dollars is not a competitive salary."
Council Member Richard A. Wojto-wicz also voted to increase the salaries.
But a majority of the board voted against the raises. Among the dissenters was Grelick, whose personal financial resources eclipse her supervisor's salary.
"Thank you for the salary increase, Bob and Jane, but I'm not interested," she said. "I don't think it's appropriate to have salary increases at a time when we're negotiating contracts with three bargaining units.
"I refuse to take the salary increase. I would put the money in a land fund, in an escrow account."
Michael G. McGuire joined Grelick, William L. Kindel and Daniel J. Ward in opposing the raises.
The pay increases were part of a package Woodward and Brewer introduced that also included about $180,000 in cuts to the town budget, including taking $30,000 out of the payroll for the town attorney's office.
Some council members accused Woodward and Brewer, both Republicans, of playing dirty politics; the sitting town clerk, Susan K. Jaros, and highway superintendent, Thomas J. Wik, are Republicans.
And some council members were suspicious of the late hour: the proposal was not discussed at the meeting until after 10 p.m., when most residents there had already gone home.
"Well, Jane, this really takes the cake," Ward said to Woodward. "You're attempting to push this through at the last minute. I think it smells. I think it's a partisan political move to fund Republican candidates."
Woodward pointed out that Grelick is a Democrat. But that did not stop the accusations.
"I honestly think they put Susan Grelick in there (included in the raises) so they can use it against her next year when she runs for re-election," said Kindel, who has announced his intention of running against Grelick next year.