The New Paltz Times reports in its August 24 issue that Village of New Paltz mayor Jason West is seeking to make his job a full-time position. It is currently considered a part-time job.
When West took office the annual salary for the job was $8,000. It was subsequently raised to $25,000. If the village board votes to make it full-time and increases the salary to a proposed $40,000, West will have had his pay increased by 400%.
No wonder he thinks of himself as the green mayor.
The mayor’s job was traditionally more or less a voluntary position that came with a stipend. It was part-time and clearly intended for someone with established roots in the village, his own principal source of income, and an appreciation for civic virtue. It was not a career path into politics, at least when measured by the pay. It was not meant to be someone’s full-time job or career.
That was a way to keep village politics in a small-town motif with a little noblesse oblige thrown in for good measure.
One of the arguments being offered is that West has no health insurance. And that making the job full-time will entitle him to coverage. But the job didn’t come with health insurance when West ran for it, so surely he knew what to expect, and understood that he would have to pay for his own insurance.
There might be a case for changing some conditions of the job, and that case seems to have been made when the pay was raised to $25,000. But is it not unseemly for the person currently holding an office, who first votes himself a 200% raise, to then take a second bite on the apple?
A raise of 400% within the span of a single term of office, is that not a bit much?
Doesn’t it seem more honorable, for all concerned, if these further changes are really called for in the first place, for them to become effective after a mayor, whether it be West or someone else, is sworn in following the next election, in the spring of 2007?