Shandaken Councilman wants hourly wages for staff

By Jay Braman Jr.
A Shandaken Town Councilman objected to the way the town pays some employees and has found himself at odds with the town supervisor over the matter.
At the March town board meeting in Shandaken, Councilman Vince Bernstein raised the issue of payment because, while some employees are clearly paid by the hour, others, he said, are given a salary with no requirement to document how often they actually work.
Bernstein raised the issue because in February the board passed a resolution to hire an assistant dog control officer at “an annual salary not to exceed $4,000.”
This month, Bernstein said that the town should have learned its lesson a few years ago when it was revealed that someone, he did not mention a name, had been hired at an annual salary to handle the billing for the Phoenicia Water District and ended up making $85 an hour for the work.
He also reminded the board of a time in the late 1990s when a town councilman stopped performing his duties due to a political dispute but never resigned and was paid for two years of service anyway.
The councilman also complained that others, such as Police Chief James McGrath, are also operating on an annual salary and that the town has no idea how much he is working.
It should also be noted that last year, a former highway department employee was arrested for allegedly padding her salary.
Supervisor Rob Stanley became agitated with Bernstein at the March meeting, saying that he felt it was unnecessary to require that all employees serve on an hourly basis. He also reminded Bernstein that town board members are all on annual salary and do not work by the hour. He warned that if employees were going to be required to go to an hourly rate then town councilmen would be required to do so as well.