When Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond mentioned his salary was “about 65th” on the pay scale in the city, he was exaggerating.
But not by much; it is actually 59th.
According to 2017 data from seethroughny.org, Diamond is getting paid just $273 more this year than the assistant to the mayor, Mike Mender.
So when the outgoing mayor proposed his final budget this week, he included a raise for the new mayor from $56,650 to $67,000.
Diamond said the mayor’s salary has not been raised in over 10 years. That’s too long.
Taxpayers don’t like it when politicians give themselves raises, so the only way to make the pay scale more competitive is the way Diamond did it—when you are heading out the door.
What communities pay their mayors across upstate varies as much as the communities they serve. Consider some of these mayoral salaries with 2015 statistics:
- Binghamton, with a population of 47,376, pays $64,433.
- Hornell, with a population of 8,563, pays $98,588.
- Jamestown, with a population of 31,146, pays $72,000.
- Niagara Falls, with a population of 50,193, pays $78,000.
- Oneida, with a population of 11,393, pays $27,000.
- Plattsburgh, with a population of 19,989, pays $75,689.
- Glens Falls, with a population of 14,000, pays $56,650.
Since Glens Falls has a professional fire department and its own police department, 24 of the 26 top paid positions in the city are with the fire and police departments.
Those employees were paid between $77,000 and $94,000, with almost all the police and fire department employees earning north of $70,000. Half of the city’s $18.2 million dollar budget will go toward paying salaries of police and fire department employees.
Still, leadership is important.
Diamond has demonstrated that over his nine years in office by getting a lot done.
If the city wants to continue heading in the right direction, it needs to pay its mayor a competitive salary, and Diamond’s proposal for a salary increase is probably long overdue. It’s hard to know what is appropriate, but $67,000 does not seem exorbitant to us.
At that salary, we believe the city will continue to attract viable candidates for mayor, and that is very important.
This is an excellent step forward, but we wonder if the city could do more for employees who are not represented by unions.
Perhaps the Common Council could approve a pool of money for merit raises for those employees. Department heads could recommend raises for high-performing employees, with the Common Council signing off on those recommendations.
Too often we see municipalities losing excellent employees to another municipality down the road. Having flexibility for merit raises might help keep good people from leaving, and that saves taxpayers in the long run.
Glens Falls is not a rich city, and many of its taxpayers continue to struggle, but leadership and high-performing workers should be paid accordingly.
We believe it benefits the city in the long run.