The trustees of Port Jefferson voted to raise the village mayor's salary from $10,000 to $19,500 Monday night, a more modest increase than the originally proposed $15,000 raise.

Mayor Margot Garant abstained from the vote, which was unanimous, save for one absent trustee, Jim Burke. The raise is retroactive to July 1.

A similar proposal to raise the trustees' salaries from $7,000 to $12,500 was tabled until the next trustee meeting on Oct. 17 because Burke was absent Monday night.

Before the vote, some residents attending the public portion of the trustee meeting spoke about their misgivings over the amount and timing of the proposed raises. "I'm perfectly happy with [Garant] as mayor," resident Theresa Eberling said. "This is just not the time for a raise."

Salaries of the Port Jefferson mayor and trustees are set in the village code. Only the trustees and mayor can amend the code. All positions are part-time.

Since the raise was proposed in August, Garant has defended it against public outcry as a needed incentive to attract more people to serve in local government. She has pointed out she ran unopposed this summer for her second term.

Eberling said the salaries shouldn't be the reason to run for office. "Money shouldn't be the issue to attract the most attractive, dedicated trustees," she said.

In discussions before the vote, Garant said she now felt it was politically a "no-win situation" for her.

Garant pointed out the village ended the last fiscal year with a $1.1-million surplus because of the government's financial leadership. "We . . . scrubbed that budget two years in a row," she said. "The next person should want to do that. The salary should be commensurate with the work that it takes."

The raise can still be challenged. The village clerk has 10 days to publish notice of the code change in The Port Times Record. Then the public has 30 days to submit a petition with signatures of 20 percent of registered village voters. A successful petition would lead to a referendum on whether the raise will be approved.

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