Thursday, May 20, 2021

A Night at the Council: Part 3

In his last report to the Common Council at the informal meeting on May 10, Nick Zachos asked the Council to reinstate the money that had been cut from the 2021 Youth Department budget because of COVID. He said he wanted the Council to do this, because he didn't want the new youth director, as her first encounter with the Council, to have to ask for more money. As it turned out, the new youth director, Liz Yorck, had to endure something worse at the Council meeting on Tuesday than having to ask the Council to restore money that had been cut from the department budget. She had listen to the aldermen quibbling over whether or not she deserved a 16 percent raise when she had been in the job for only about a week.

On Tuesday, a resolution was introduced to increase the salary for the youth director from $50,000 to $58,000, effective on the day the new director assumed the position. The resolution explains: "During the course of the interview process the Commissioner determined that the salary for Director of the Hudson Department of Youth was insufficient to attract a qualified individual." The resolution also asserts: "The funds for the increased salary are available within the Department of Youth's existing personal services budget and does not require a reallocation from general city funds."

In arguing for the salary increase, Maija Reed, youth commissioner, said that, like the Department of Public Works and the Hudson Police Department, the Youth Department was "responsible for our citizens" and maintained that the job of director was an "on-call job." She claimed that, even at $58,000, the youth director's salary would be "the lowest department head salary in the city."

Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) said she wanted to "understand what the salaries for the other department heads are, and how many years have they worked toward getting that." In response, Council president Tom DePietro said, "We know that [the head of] DPW earns well over $100,000 a year." 

Gossips decided to try to answer Halloran's question by consulting SeeThroughNY. Here's what I found for 2020 regarding the salaries. Information about the tenure of each department head comes from my own memory banks.
  • Rob Perry, head of the Department of Public Works, was paid $108,541 in 2020. Perry was been superintendent of Public Works since 2009.
  • Heather Campbell, head of the Treasurer's Office, was paid $76,803 in 2020. Her position is unique in that the treasurer, who is a department head, is an elected official. Campbell has been the treasurer since 2014.
  • Tracy Delaney, head of the Clerk's Office, was paid $80,201 in 2020. Delaney has been the city clerk since 2009. Prior to that, she was the assistant city clerk. Delaney has worked for the City of Hudson since 1990.
  • Craig Haigh, head of the Code Enforcement Office, was paid $58,191 in 2020. Haigh has been the code enforcement officer since 2013.
I could not find the salary for Chief Ed Moore, head of the Hudson Police Department, at SeeThroughNY, but in 2018, Roger Hannigan Gilson reported that his salary was $30,000 a year, and in August 2020 Peter Volkmann, then the police commissioner, told the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission that Moore was "the lowest paid police chief in the State of New York and the lowest paid officer in the HPD." Moore has been chief of the HPD since 2013.

Responding to Reed's statement that the position of youth director was an "on-call job," Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) stated, "We are all on call for our constituents." She went on to say, "You cannot compare this position to DPW." 

Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) opined that the issue of the salary should have come before the Council earlier and suggested, "If there is extra money now, it should go to the kids." Garriga concurred that the money should go back to programming. 

When a vote on the resolution was finally taken, six members of the Council voted in favor (Calvin Lewis, John Rosenthal, Jane Trombley, Malachi Walker, Rebecca Wolff, DePietro); five members voted against (Garriga, Halloran, Merante, Shershah Mizan, Dewan Sarowar). After the vote, Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward), who had earlier in the meeting expressed her disappointment that the Council had halved the salary for the Warren Street Seasonal Usage project manager, called what had preceded the vote "an unfortunate discussion" and asked rhetorically, "When did the Council decide it was the HR Department?"

Later, a resolution to amend the 2021 budget to restore $57,351.62 which had been cut from the Youth Department budget, passed with the support of everyone on the Council except Merante, who abstained.

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