AVON – The Town Board went back and forth among themselves and with Town employees over the 2016 budget for more than an hour last week, specifically over raises being offered to the Town Clerk and other employees.
Because Town Clerk Sharon Knight’s three roles are being combined, it appears that she is getting an 11% increase for 2016, far more than the 2% being budgeted for the rest of the Town’s employees. Jan Cole, town court clerk and town justice candidate, requested that council member Jim Blye read her letter to the Board aloud at the budget hearing.
“Because I’m at my desk four days a week, I see the caliber of her work,” read Cole’s letter. “She rarely works a full week. She has gone to every funeral, presentation, luncheon, et cetra. Her vacation time seems endless. I’m at my desk now, a Wednesday afternoon, and people are coming in to get their hunting licenses. Mary had to send them to Livonia to get licenses. That’s not very good customer service. By giving her an 11 percent increase, you are rewarding her poor work ethic and penalizing the rest of the town employees for doing our job and doing it well. It’s a virtual slap in the face. Honestly, this makes me not to want to work as hard as I do.”
Cole’s letter said that given this increase, Knight’s salary would be $10,000 above the average salary for town clerks in Livingston County.
Town Supervisor David LeFeber said that as an elected official, Knight can determine when she herself works, and that her deputy seems capable and responsible of keeping the clerk’s office’s posted hours. LeFeber explained that Knight was given $3,200 additional salary while she wrote a grant for the town 3 years ago, and since she continues to manage records for that grant, she is still budgeted to receive that money. Still, the board was divided.
“I didn’t vote for the raise,” said Council member Jim Blye. “I think 2 percent is probably what everyone should get. To be honest, I made a motion at our last meeting that [annual increases] should be set at 2. It didn’t get a second. I could make a motion that increases be set at 11%.”
Deputy Supervisor Thomas Mairs, on the other hand, said that he fully agrees with the proposed budget.
“I agree with everything [LeFeber was] saying about the salary,” said Mairs. “The $3,200 has been there for 3 years and should be there. She’s still performing that task as the records management person. It was put there for a reason 3 years ago, and to take it away I think wouldn’t be right. I see the reasoning, and I’m sorry but that’s the way it is.”
After a long time weighing whether to second Blye’s motion to set all annual salary increases for the Town at 2%, LeFeber decide to move forward with the vote on the proposed budget.
“No matter what I do, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to be right and that’s the hardest part of it,” said LeFeber. “It’s a no-win situation. It’s not going to be any better tomorrow than it is whichever way. I wish there was something we could do to solve this problem that we seem to have year after year after year.”
He added that besides this snag, the rest of the budget looks good and seems to do a lot of good in the community.
“Generally, I feel it’s a good budget,” said LeFeber. “We’re below the tax cap, we’re keeping our roads clean, we’re maintaining this building, we’re doing a lot of good in the community.”
All but Councilman Blye voted in favor of the budget.