If three can’t do the job, town elected wrong people
So now the West Seneca and Alden Town Boards are crying crocodile tears of remorse for downsizing. They say they are “missing opportunities” with fewer members. Truth is, the only loss is the salary and benefits package for two additional members. When I sat on Kevin Gaughan’s downsizing panel of town officials, we all echoed the same reality – many elected town councilmen are overpaid and most do not even work the minimum 30 hours per week to earn health benefits and a pension.
When I served on the Clarence Town Board for eight years, we had councilmen whose weekly involvement could be counted in minutes. Biweekly public meeting reports were a function of busy work. These reports from required liaison meetings can easily and cheaply be handled with a recorder and a typist. Lack of accountability is not confined to Clarence.
Most municipalities are blessed with extremely competent department heads, planning boards and citizen volunteers. Council members who should only be considered to make the most important decisions needlessly insert themselves between the public and the well-run departmental gears. With today’s communications, there is no need for this input, except to promote the official’s re-election.
Pay each councilman $5,000 per year for 12 monthly meetings to provide municipal guidance decisions only. No pension, no benefits, no photo ops, no kissing babies at the pickle factory, no throwing out the ball at the first Little League game. If the three people you have can’t cut the mustard, then your town has elected the wrong people.