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Rotterdam board says yes to citizen committee

The Rotterdam Town Board passed a resolution Wednesday, Jan. 23, that authorizes Supervisor Steven Tommasone to constitute a citizen committee that will survey and study salary ranges of the town's elected and appointed officials.

The citizen committee will make recommendations to the town board as part of the 2009 budget process and will be composed of no more than five community members, said Tommasone.

The board's 4-to-0 decision to establish the citizen committee comes on the heels of a thwarted resolution that would have provided $5,000 raises to the board's four members bumping their salaries from $10,000 to $15,000.

At their Jan. 9 meeting, the board reached a two-to-two deadlock vote, effectively killing the resolution that would have provided for the raises.

New board member, Michael Della Villa, who was absent from the Jan. 9 meeting, but outspoken in his opposition to the raises, said he thought a citizen committee would be a good way to provide board members with research data so they can make an informed decision regarding town salary ranges.

The committee is something that needs to happen, said Della Villa. "They can compile data so we can see where we stand among other townships. Then we can make an educated decision about salaries."

Rotterdam resident Michael O'Connor expressed his opposition to the formation of the committee during public privilege of the floor.

"This committee is being used as a vehicle to keep this issue front and center without any need," said O'Connor referring to the board member raises.

O'Connor said the town should focus on other "real" issues like the need for a new water tower in Rotterdam Junction and the revitalization of Hamburg Street. He also said that previous community committees had been met with resistance by the board and proved ineffective.

Tommasone called on his fellow board members to have an open door policy for committee members to ensure good communication.

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