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After math dispute, village board gives manager retro raise

March 23, 2010
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - After a dispute about the figures Monday evening, village trustees broke out their pens and calculators and voted 3-2 to give village Manager Marty Murphy $3,904 in back pay for raises he hadn't gotten.

It was about $3,100 less than Murphy's calculations called for.

The resolution called for Murphy, who didn't get a raise in the 2008-09 fiscal year, to get a 4.5 percent retroactive raise for that year, the same as union employees, plus 1 percent for 2009-10, a year in which he got a 4 percent raise.

Article Photos

Village Treasurer Paul Ellis, left, and Trustee Susan Waters calculate how much money village Manager Marty Murphy should receive in retroactive raises. Behind Waters is Trustee Christy Fontana.
(Enterprise photo — Nathan Brown)

Murphy drafted the resolution and did the calculations at the request of outgoing Trustee Christy Fontana. This didn't sit well with Trustee John McEneany, who said the calculations should have been done by the payroll clerk or treasurer, not by Murphy.

"Unfortunately, I have to take the word of the man who directly benefits," McEneany said.

Murphy started his job on Nov. 26, 2007 at a $70,000 salary, and made $72,904 after his 4 percent raise in June 2009. If he had gotten a 4.5 percent raise in June 2008, he would have made $73,158 in 2008-09, and $76,808 in 2009-10 with the 4 percent raise on top of that.

The original resolution called for $7,054 in back pay for Murphy, but board members did the math at the table and came up with $3,904 owed.

Murphy said he had calculated what he is owed using a cumulative formula, which he said is commonly used in calculating pay raises. The $3,904 figure was using a non-cumulative formula.

McEneany, who voted against the retroactive raise along with Trustee Jeff Branch, said the resolution should be tabled until the next meeting.

"You shouldn't be doing the math at the board table," McEneany said.

"The reality is, he won't get a raise until 2012 if we do that (table it)," said outgoing Trustee Susan Waters.

Monday's meeting was the last one for Fontana, Waters and Mayor Tom Michael. Michael and Fontana didn't run for re-election, and Waters lost out on a second term when Tom Catillaz and Elias "Allie" Pelletieri got more votes in the March 16 election. Clyde Rabideau was elected mayor, beating Branch.

Traditionally, department heads and managerial employees have gotten the same percentage raises as union members. However, Murphy did not for 2008-09. At the time, the village was in the process of developing a job review process for the village manager, but the board never formally evaluated his performance.

Fontana talked about the things Murphy has done for the village to save money, such as making union workers pay more of the cost of their health insurance. She blamed the board for not giving Murphy an evaluation.

"My point is not a critique of Mr. Murphy's performance," McEneany said. "My point is simply, this motion" is flawed.

Before voting, Michael made a short speech about the nationwide search the village did to find a manager before hiring Murphy, and said Murphy, who was Ogdensburg's director of planning and development before coming to Saranac Lake, "didn't have a chip in the game" when he was hired.

"The village manager needs to be the business manager for the community, and not be nickeled and dimed by the board," Michael said.

Previous village Manager John Sweeney resigned in mid-2007, with Michael, Waters and Fontana voting to accept and McEneany and then-Trustee Dan Olsen voting against. Richard DePuy was interim manager before Murphy's hiring.

Murphy also requested a raise for June 1, 2010, which the board ended up not granting, saying it did not have the authority to bind a future board.


Contact Nathan Brown at (518) 891-2600 ext. 26 or



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