Three Babylon Town officials received $36,000 raises earlier this month. Whether Chief of Staff Ron Kluesener, Town Attorney Joseph Wilson and Town Comptroller Victoria Marotta deserved what amounted to 33 percent pay hikes is grist for another day.
Right now the process of granting those raises is most concerning — a process that was, at best, opaque.
The town board did not vote on the raises directly; it approved a resolution regarding an “administrative salary plan.” The plan was two tables that must be cross-checked to figure out what salary “level” and “step” for each nonunion job title corresponded with which actual current salary for that title. That salary then must be checked with the previous administrative salary plan to discern which positions got raises. And if you want to know the names of the people who got the raises, you must submit a freedom of information request to the town.
Adding further layers of darkness: Neither the minutes of town board meetings nor the supporting materials for meeting agendas — in this case, the tables — are on the town website; most municipalities post such information. And in Babylon Town Board meetings, resolutions like the one for the administrative salary plan typically are read off only by number and voted on with no discussion by the board.
Town officials say they inherited a salary approval system set up more than 30 years ago and are not trying to hide information. But that’s what’s happening. Taxpayers in Babylon, or anywhere, shouldn’t have to work that hard to find out how their taxes are being spent. Public information should be easily accessible. It’s time Babylon let the sun shine in. — The editorial board