“Town Board members gave themselves raises of $17,000 to $20,000 in a revised 2019 budget that also increases property taxes, funds a “litter control” unit and potentially close or lease one of the town’s public swimming pools to save money.
The annual raises and some other spending decisions were not part of town Supervisor Michael Specht’s original $120.2 million budget unveiled in October and followed by a public hearing.
The town still faces an estimated $8.5 million deficit in the spending plan adopted last week, but has dedicated $3.5 million to slash it some. The independent audits from 2015 to 2017 have not been completed to determine a precise estimate of the town’s fiscal woes.
Specht said he leaned against raises but voted for the budget with Deputy Supervisor Brendel Logan-Charles, and councilmen Yehuda Weissmandl and Michael Rossman. Councilman David Wanounou was absent at a family wedding, he said.
2019 ADOPTED-PROPOSED BUDGET: Read it here
Specht, who won election in November after decades as a town lawyer, said Logan-Charles pressed for the raises, arguing the part-time board members had not received an increase in a decade. Weissmandl and Wanounu won election in November. Rossman won election in 2016.
“This was a Town Board request and they expressed frustration the salaries of the board members had not been increased in a decade,” he said. “Brendel brought this up last year.”
Under the budget:
- The 2019 pay of Logan-Charles as deputy supervisor jumps to $70,000, including $18,000 for her post.
- Three board members see $17,000 raises to $53,000. The salaries don’t include medical and other benefits.
- Specht’s pay rises $20,000 to $165,000.
- Newly elected Highway Superintendent Fred Brinn will be paid $160,000, up from $144,000.
- Finance Director John Lynch gets a pay raise to $161,000, from $144,942.
- Specht’s top aide, Mona Montal, the town’s purchasing director, saw a pay increase from $157,957 to $168,620.
- Tax Assessor Scott Schedler got raise from $154,910 to $164,550.
- Assistant town Attorney Dennis Lynch’s pay went part-time $66, 512 to $166,000 fulltime.
- Personnel Administrator Linda Condon got a raise from $166,733 to $170,484
Other administrators saw raises of $2,000 to $4,000 that mirrored those increases for employees covered by the CSEA contract, officials said.
Justification: more time working
Specht justified the salary hikes by arguing the board members are committed to spending more time attending meetings and working for the public. He said Logan-Charles is trying to turn the post into a full-time job, including doing constituent out-reach for which she got extra pay in 2018.
Logan-Charles didn’t return inquiries seeking comment.
Her husband, Bernard Charles, lost his town parks job after failing a civil service exam and a non-civil service position of soliciting clients during the summer for the town ballpark ended without much success, Specht said.
The town paid him $15,000. He’s an elected Spring Valley trustee until December and a member of the East Ramapo Board of Education, a non-paying position.
William Weber,who lost the supervisor’s race to Specht, took a harsh view of the pay raises and the board’s financial priorities, saying, “If you think that things could not get worse in Ramapo, they just did.”
Read the complete Journal News coverage here.
This is an insult on several levels. First off, who cares if the Town Councilmen don’t get increases. They are only elected for 4 years at a shot. The salary is known when they ran. Next, the salary for the council members was already arguably too high. They used to have two workshops and three meetings which still ran less than 10 hours a month. This is supposed to be a community service position not a job. People should be there to do well by their friends and neighbors and not to be getting paid $300 per hour, AND benefits, to attend meetings where they barely express any questions or thoughts or comments. For several months now there haven’t even been separate workshops so the number of hours is nearly halved and yet the pay raises are arguable monstrous.
When it comes to litter patrol that is another crazy slap in the face. For $180K you can hire 5 people to actually clean up litter. From a management perspective how about assigning outreach to our high paid superintendent of highways? What about Phil Tisi and his outreach responsibilities? What about our overpaid council members? I don’t know what Montebello is paying for it litter patrolman but I know its a helluva lot cheaper and he does a excellent job. We don’t need another patronage position in the Town of Ramapo.
And on that note, I cannot believe that the Town would be so insulting as to suggest that the Yiddish only speaking constituents are to blame for so much of the litter problem in Town as to suggest that the deputy position needs to be a yiddish speaker. Why not a spanish speaking manager? Or a creole speaking manager? It is totally insensitive to cast such aspersions on the yiddish population in Ramapo this way. Take the money and hire people who need the work and would be happy to improve everyone’s quality of life. And utilize the many yiddish speaking workers at the Town of Ramapo to answer questions as needed.
With respect to the rest of the raises? How about getting the audits done before even considering such a move. This goes beyond just optics into the realm of maladministration. And this reporting is only related to salaries. What about the new fleet cars all these same employees are also getting.
These are issues that should unite all the citizens of Ramapo. We need level headed thinking and decision making at Town Hall.
Robert I. Rhodes, Director, Preserve Ramapo
How can this board get away with these raises? The answer is obvious. As long as the board works to destroy all zoning controls in Ramapo the Hasidic builders who control our town will guarantee these people get re-elected.
The huge raise given to Mona Montal is especially gauling. Our town’s financial records are such a mess that we have not had a certified financial audit since 2014. And who was the director of purchasing and then director of both purchasing and finance who worked closely with St. Lawrence during that period? Mona Montal.
There are no penalties for mismanagement in Ramapo.
I suspect that when we finally have an honest audit for 2014 and forward there will be many serious questions regarding St. Lawrences financial manipulations. Recall that he had his stooge board pass a resolution giving him the right to move funds from any line of his budget to any other line without the approval of the board. This is either illegal or just EXTREMELY irregular.
As of now he has only been convicted of federal financial felonies. Can we expect that St. Lawrence and others in his administration will face state felony charges when we finally get our 2015, 2016, and 2017 financials? And what about the 2018 financial due in early 2019?