Shelter Island Town’s highway superintendent will step down from his post in March, citing the position’s comparatively low pay in a town with a high cost of living.
Jay L. Card Jr., whose 2019 salary was to be just over $90,000, said he told town officials in October that he plans to leave at the end of March. Card, first elected with 57 percent of the vote in 2011 and who was cross-endorsed and ran unopposed in 2013, 2015 and 2017, has not officially resigned but said his last day will be March 31.
As highway superintendent and public works commissioner, Card, 56, oversaw a staff of about 30 and was responsible for maintaining town infrastructure like roads, beaches and the recycling center. According to Newsday payroll data, Card's 2017 salary was $81,182. The Shelter Island native and father of three said the salary is not commensurate with the responsibilities of the job.
“I realized it was time to go,” said Card, who said he had asked for raises in the past and whose fourth two-year term expires at the end of the year. “I was never going to move forward with this.”
Card, a retired Shelter Island Town Police Department sergeant, will instead focus on his private landscape architecture business, a venture he said is more lucrative than working for the town.
Town Supervisor Gary Gerth said the town has offered the position to Brian Sherman, a labor crew leader in the town highway department, whose 2017 salary was $94,500. He will be paid $105,000, plus benefits, as of April 1.
Gerth said he agreed that Card was not paid enough and noted his 2019 budget included an $8,000 increase for the position over the previous year.
“We don’t want him to go; we love him,” Gerth said. “He’s got a wonderful record.”
Card was paid less than those in similar roles in neighboring towns, and said he took no health benefits from Shelter Island. Southampton Town’s highway superintendent was budgeted to be paid $113,655 in 2019, in addition to $52,950 worth of benefits. East Hampton Town budgeted the position at an annual salary of $93,793 in 2019, plus $51,942 in benefits.
Card added that the job also does not reflect the cost of living on Shelter Island, where the median home price is $999,500, according to Multiple Listing Service Long Island.
Card said he was offered $100,000 to continue in his role, but had already made a commitment to his landscaping business partner and declined. He noted that as a retired police officer he also received no retirement incentives.
“It was a pretty good deal for the town,” he said.