The Huntington Bay Village Board has voted to start paying its mayor, trustees, police and road commissioners.
The board voted 4-1 Monday to pay the mayor $1,500 and trustees $250 per month, effective June 1. The police and road commissioner also are to get $250 a month. Trustee Don Rave was the no vote.
Residents have fought for years against paying for what had been volunteer jobs. And they were unsure about whether they will try to appeal the decision.
Officials will also receive Social Security and workers' compensation benefits. State law requires that they also be given the option to join the New York State retirement system, to which the village would contribute 10 percent and the employee about 3 percent, said Mayor Herbert Morrow.
"I have believed this is the right thing to do for a very long time," Morrow said. "Having this modest compensation in place may get an individual or two, particularly retirees who come out of great corporate jobs, to step forward if they are being paid a couple of bucks."
Since the early 1990s, the village justice has been compensated and now makes $500 per court session.
For two years, Morrow, elected mayor in 1994, has lobbied to have the positions paid because, he said, the amount of work and time required to run the village of 1,600 residents is tantamount to a job.
Residents can seek a referendum within 30 days to vote on the pay.
Deb Colton, who was among residents long opposed to paying the board, said she wasn't sure a petition would be circulated to compel a referendum. "If it's true they can keep bringing this local law back . . . year after year, we all have other things to do," Colton said.
Deputy Mayor Dom Spada, who is also the village's police commissioner, resurrected the plan this year.
"Meetings are a small part of what we do," Spada said. "I'm engaged every day in one thing or another: the fiduciary, the legislative and policy work that we do for the residents. It's a job and should be treated as such."
Before voting, Rave introduced a resolution to pay only the mayor, but the measure was not supported and was not voted upon.
"In the short run, this is fine for the village," Rave said. "We have the money, we have a great board and everyone on the board deserves the compensation."
His concern is that the board voted on its own compensation and that power might be abused in the future. "Because of the fact that we have taken the step of compensating ourselves just like all other lawmakers; and it's not healthy."