ENFIELD, N.Y. —The Enfield Town Board voted 3-1 to increase the deputy supervisor’s annual stipend by more than $9,000 during a remote meeting held on Zoom April 15 despite some opposition heard from residents during the public comment portion of the meeting.
A copy of the agenda can be found here.
Recently named to the position by Town Supervisor Beth McGee, Redmond will now receive a $10,000 annual stipend, an increase of $9,200 from the previous deputy supervisor stipend of $800.
“Naming a deputy supervisor falls under the purview of the supervisor… and Stephanie is an extremely professional, intelligent and insightful woman who has already proven her value in a short time,” said McGee.
McGee, who receives $20,000 annually as town supervisor, added that the raise was important to reflect the responsibilities and commitment of the position.
“Traditionally the deputy has gotten a token stipend of $800 to hop in and sign a check or two if the supervisor is away. My goal is to help the town understand that the position …entails much more than the town has relegated it to,” McGee said.
Councilperson Bob Lynch was the dissenting vote against the raise.
“I was opposed for financial reasons, I have no objection with Ms. Redmond per se, but in a time of financial uncertainty we don’t want to (increase the town administration budget by 50 percent),” said Lynch, who added, “We have no idea what next year’s budget will look like, it could be a disaster,” Lynch said.
McGee said that based upon her conversations she does not believe that Lynch’s issue with the salary increase rests solely on financial reasons.
“There is a sexist undertone that comes across in these conversations, Lynch spent an hour trying to convince us that the men in town who work for the highway department should have no oversight and be paid 40 hour weeks, no matter how long during COVID-19 pandemic, but for the women in town administrative positions — well I guess we aren’t supposed to value them or pay them,” McGee said.
Highway Department issues
Along with the increase to the deputy supervisor’s annual stipend McGee said that there is another special meeting planned for Wednesday, April 22 to increase the pay of the deputy clerk position from $7,000 annually to $10,000. The decision by McGee to address pay increases for those positions is part of a broader effort by the board to modernize the town government and readdress what its priorities should be.
“If you look around town other aspects of town management have not gotten the attention they need, and maybe 40 percent of the town budget should be going towards that instead of 20 percent of our total budget. Our town is not just a backwoods town, we have a lot going on and we need to focus on community growth and things that are going to happen whether we plan or not, because as the world changes we need to adapt, and that takes smart people willing to do the work,” McGee said.
Also during the meeting Highway Superintendent Barry “Buddy” Rollins, Sr. gave an update on a pickup truck the department is repairing and might try to sell. When questioned about why it hasn’t been sold yet, Rollins said that it is currently being repaired after the board didn’t respond fast enough to his response to sell it the previous week.
“I just said I’m working on it, it’s down at the repair shop. Well now if I’m gonna get harassed about selling it, all yous’ had to do was sell it last week like I asked,” Rollins said.
“Always a pleasure,” McGee said.
After the meeting, McGee said that Rollins has been incorrectly under the impression that since he is an elected official he has complete autonomy over the highway department, which encompasses roughly 80 percent of the town’s budget.
“But he has to work within the guidelines and financial restrictions we set for him,” McGee said.
Lynch disagreed, and instead said that Rollins has complete autonomy to operate within the budget set for him.
“(Rollins) has managerial and operational control of the highway department. Town board has financial oversight, it’s not operational oversight. Rollins has operational control over his highway staff and the salary established by the town board at the beginning of his term, (roughly $61,000) and there are legal limits as to how much can increase or decrease that in a given period of time,” Lynch said.
Rollins currently has use of a town purchased pickup truck that he is allowed to take home at night which was purchased last year to replace the truck currently under consideration for being sold.
“He bought a new truck last year, and there was some question as to whether he had full authorization to do it, we, well I, concluded that he did. State law requires that when any purchase like that is made multiple members of the town board have to sign a voucher, which means in our justification the purchase was for a legitimate purpose. I signed it,” Lynch said.
For her part, McGee said that she disagreed with that assessment.
“Reserve fund money was used for that truck. (Last year) Rollins came to us to move money, an extra $15,000 in the budget for the purchase of a new truck. When we disputed it he said he already bought it. That is how Rollins typically operates, he comes to us with an immediate need and insists that we adapt to it. Also, in December 2018, there was a dump truck that Rollins said he bought on auction and then asked for the board to move money after the fact. This is not the way things are supposed to happen. There are laws for a reason, and the town board manages the budget,” McGee said.
She added that more oversight for the high department is coming because, in part, financial reasons are making it paramount to do so.
“(Rollins) needs to learn how to add and subtract, and the town board has to learn how to make the money work for the town and the board needs to take more ownership of that,” McGee said.