On Tuesday September 3rd there will be a public hearing on a proposal to raise the salaries of future members of the Saratoga Springs City Council from the current $14,500.00 per year to $30,000.00 per year. The salaries of the council members have not changed since 2001. By my count that is some eighteen years without an increase.
In the August 27 edition of the Gazette Newspaper Mayor Meg Kelly discussed why she believes it is time for an increase. At the August 20 Council meeting the mayor told her colleagues:
“As we are entering the  budget season, the time is right for a fair and reasonable discussion about these salaries, considering the duties, responsibilities, time commitment and the goal of attracting qualified, diverse candidates.”
Expanding on the issue of salaries she noted:
“Council members are supposed to be part-time,” Kelly said. “Consider what $14,500 per year means: At 20 hours per week, you get $13.94 per hour, at 30 hours a week you get $9.29 an hour, at 50 hours per week you get $5.58 per hour. Next year, New York state’s minimum wage will be $11.80 an hour.”
The reality is that the Commissioners and the Mayor work many more than twenty hours a week. In the case of Mayor Kelly it’s fair to say she works considerably more than forty hours a week.
I have done a rough, back of the envelope analysis of the increase. After adding social security to the increase of $15,500.00 per council member, I estimate the cost for the increase would be $83,430.00. Any attempt at computing the effect on taxes is problematic as revenues change and costs for running the city change. Also, there are different tax rates in the outer and inner districts of the city. Still, assuming that this was the only expense added to the previous tax rates, the increase would be roughly 2.6 cents per thousand.
So we are talking about a minuscule impact on the taxpayers.
If we want to attract good people to run for office we need to pay them a modest amount.
I would ask the readers of this blog, how much would you want to be paid per hour just to sit through the City Council agenda meetings and general meetings twice a month?
I find it very frustrating listening to uninformed people sneer at public officials and dismiss their dedication. If we treat them with disrespect, how can we expect good people to take on the burden of office? Paying this modest increase is something they fully deserve. I hope people will turn out to the hearing on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 and support the proposed increases.