Taxpayer Giveaway - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1829628

Taxpayer Giveaway

Folks: It is time to shut down the candy store. According to the account in last week’s Press [“Sweeney Named New Village Clerk,” October 21], the Southampton Village mayor and village trustees have split jobs, added people and promoted others willy-nilly at staggering increases in salaries — none of which is even remotely commensurate with experience, skills, seniority, efficiency or discernible talent.

Beginning with the outsized compensation given by the mayor to a novice hired as his assistant in 2020 ($50,000), followed by a $28,500 raise nine months later, to $78,500; the inflated salary of $170,000 paid to the new village administrator (now upped to $175,100, which she will not see reduced even though her job has been cut in half); and the latest promotion of an employee to village clerk at a salary of $109,000 (the previous deputy clerk — same job, same duties — with 21 years on the job was making $93,000 when she retired), this is beginning to look and feel like a giveaway in the service of fealty.

The salaries of just the administrator and the new clerk alone add up to over a quarter of a million dollars. Plus, we can look forward to a promised new planner in the $150,000 salary range, and there is a new “account trainee” hired by the administrator in the $68,000 range.

It is well to remember that the village is some 6 square miles, no matter how bloated by money. Do the math.

None of these figures, by the way, include the platinum benefits enjoyed by all. Nor do they reflect the actual workloads carried by the less-compensated to carry on the village’s business. But they do go some way to explaining the toxic, demoralized climate apparent in Village Hall and the unfortunate exodus.

The mayor offers by way of a reason that these changes are “consistent with some other trends that we’re seeing in other villages and municipalities.” In fact, in other municipalities, like the Town of Southampton, the town clerk with 20 years on the job, and more to do, is making $118,000. The town clerk in the Village of East Hampton, $93,000.

We, the village taxpayers, are footing the bill for this largesse. And while it is the subject of many irate conversations and phone calls, more public and effective steps must be taken to oversee those who govern and control this money. This is equally true for the billions of dollars now stashed in the Community Preservation Fund accounts and causing much salivation and greed.

The public must demand in-person meetings and the end of Zoom-the-enabler, and the public must attend and hold the people who are spending its money so freely to account.

Frances Genovese