Brand-new town board approves salary increases in Chester

Chester. Families turn out to see loved ones take oath of office in what may be the first time the entire town board is sworn in on the same night.

| 17 Jan 2020 | 04:29

It may be the first time the entire Chester town board was sworn in on the same night, town clerk Linda Zappala observed at the board's reorganizational meeting on Jan. 8.

All of its members were up for election or re-election in November, and all won contested races. First Zappala swore in the two newcomers, Tom Becker first, then Bob Courtenay. Supervisor Bob Valentine, town board members Cindy Smith and Orlando Perez, and highway superintendent Anthony LaSpina were sworn in together, as they had requested.

The new board then sat down for the first time together to tackle the first business of 2020: setting salaries.

Salaries increase 3 percent

All town employees except for the supervisor will receive salary increases of 3 percent. All town board members except Supervisor Valentine approved the increase. Valentine's total compensation is $71,280, the same as in 2019. He gets $66,280 as supervisor and $15,000 as budget officer.

Sue Bahren, Valentine's challenger for supervisor last November, called the tax increase "unconscionable" after the town had just exceeded the state-mandated 2 percent tax increase.

Zappala's total compensation is $100,379. She gets $90,841 as town clerk and $9,538 as water billing clerk.

Police Chief Dan Doellinger's total compensation is $139,146. As police chief he gets $137,869, zoning board member $1,177, and emergency management officer $100.

Valentine told The Chronicle that Al Fusco, the town's consulting engineer, is paid $80,000 a year on retainer. Becker and Courtenay are looking into what and how -- hourly, by contract, or both -- other town engineers in the area are paid. Courtenay and Becker will compare their findings and report back at the next town meeting.

The Chronicle received no reply from Valentine about how much Scott Bonacic, the town attorney, makes.

Tom and Bill Keller, brothers and water administrators, also work hourly for the highway department.

The salary for ethics committee members was not listed. The committee has never met.

In other business

Billboards: Becker will check into the three minutes per hour devoted to town advertising on the LaMar company's electronic billboard. He also will talk to Dave Stevenson, who will create artwork welcoming people to Chester. Becker told The Chronicle that this provision has been part of the sign company's contract for more than three years but has never been used. The town has been using the Castle Fun Center's electronic sign for its three-minute promotion but not the other signs, he said.

Highway garage repairs: ABM Company will repair the highway garage, which was badly damaged by fire last year. Becker said he made himself available to do anything with ABM that's necessary to expedite the repairs.

Fund transfer: Smith asked about the $125,000 moved between funds during the town's special meeting on Dec. 26. Valentine said the funds will be paid back when tax revenue comes in. Smith said she was told prior to the meeting that $2 million in tax revenue had come in on Jan. 8. Valentine said fund transfers are just housekeeping measures and have gone on for years.

Tax increase: Felix Liberato asked why the taxes are going up. Valentine told him it was complex and he would be happy to meet with Liberato and explain the hike in taxes.

Steel and salaries: Sol Bergeson asked why the town didn't use Brakewell Steel Fabricators, a local business, in repairing the highway garage. Fusco said Brakewell didn't provide the steel needed for the project. Bergeson also asked if the salaries presented during the meeting included medical and retirement benefits. Valentine said the benefits were not included in the salary figures.

Salaries and wages for 2020:
Supervisor Bob Valentine: $66,280
Deputy supervisor Cindy Smith: $22,091
Each town board member (3): $16,463
Town clerk Linda Zappala: $90,841
Highway superintendent Anthony LaSpina: $111,032
Justice Janet Haislip: $34,649
Justice Sharon Worthy-Spiegl: $33,494
Receiver of taxes Vincent Maniscalco: $19.187
Cleaning person Szwalch: $32,496
Budget officer Bob Valentine: $15,000
Water billing clerk Linda Zappala: $9,538
Water administrator Tom Keller: $3,500
Water administrator Bill Keller: $3,500
Planning board chair Don Serotta: $21,621
Zoning board chair Gregg Feigelson: $3,688
Each planning board members (6): $4,121 (Jackie Elfers, Robert Conklin, Dot Wierzbicki, Carl D’Antonio, Mark Roberson, Larry Dysinger)
Each zoning board member (6): $1,177 (Gregg Feigelson, Walter Popailo, Julie Bell, Dan Doellinger, Bob Favara, alternate member Tom Atkin)
Board of assessment chair Michael Gardner: $743
Each board of assessment member (4): $631 (Catherine Henry, Lawrence Malone , Jean Mundy ; one seat is vacant)
Historian Clifton Patrick: $1,513
Emergency management officer Dan Doellinger: $100
Hourly wages:
Deputy town clerk Heidi Schmid: $33.95
Deputy town clerk (vacant): To be determined
Account clerk town clerk's office Griffin: $28.86
Bookkeeping/benefits administration Conklin: $46.21
Senior secretary/payroll McPhee: $33.95
Highway superintendent's clerk Thom: $33.95
Court clerk Hechinger: $33.95
Court clerk Moran: $33.95
Deputy court clerk Rittenhouse: $33.95
Building inspector Alexis Burchianti: $38
Building department clerk McKenna: $33.95
Planning and zoning clerk (vacant): To be determined
Building maintenance mechanic Taggart: $29.50
Laborer Grohl: $28.31
Recreation director Walter Popailo: $28.86
Recreation aide Michele Deshler: $25.75
Recreation aide Kristin Palmer: $27.16
Part-time court officer Deluca: $25.32
Part-time court officer Rosengrant: $25.32
Part-time assessor clerk Scalia: $24.25
Part-time assessor clerk Maraglino: $24.25
Part-time police clerk Klopf: $24,25
Part-time police clerk Petraro: $24.25
Highway Ragone: $36.71
Highway Bell: $35.46
Highway Keating: $35,46
Highway Meyer: $35.46
Highway Morris: $35.46
Highway Phillips: $35.46
Highway Quackenbush: $35.46
Highway Stoddard: $35.46
Highway Utter: $35.46
Highway Wright: $35.46
Highway Young: $35.46
Highway McGowan: $90,251.20
Police (contract pending):
Chief Dan Doellinger: $137,869 annual
Administrative Sergeant Vitale: $56.91
Sergeant Slowick: $56.91
Sergeant D'Agnese: $50.04
Sergeant Dugan: $42.08
Detective Slaughter: $46.85
Officer Bird: $45.49
Officer Calderone: $36.08
Officer Chambers: $43.55
Officer Dunlop: $42.08
Officer Monsees: $33.09
Officer Perez: $47.33
Officer Santosky-Wright: $43.55
Officer Stack: $42.08
Officer Weinstein: $45.49
Part-time officer Grahn: $25.32
Part-time officer Maglione: $25.32
Part-time officer Pavese: $25.32