Should Mallach get a pay raise?

Jordanna Mallach smiles from a NATO base in Kosovo after winning the Harrietstown supervisor election on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2021 — Wednesday morning, on her time. (Provided photo — Jordanna Mallach)

Harrietstown town Supervisor Jordanna Mallach wants a pay raise. A $20,000 one.

In the town’s preliminary budget, the supervisor — who was elected last year while she was stationed 4,000 miles away in Kosovo, serving in the Army as part of NATO’s Task Force Mansfield — requested that her pay be more than doubled. If approved, her salary would increase from $18,385 per year to $39,000. Staff Writer Aaron Cerbone wrote about the supervisor’s proposal in Tuesday’s Enterprise.

Her rationale: “I think that the time that I’ve put in at the town hall has saved us a significant amount of money,” she said. She cited a reduction in the town’s Verizon contract, Casella bill and advisement bill from the state Department of Environmental Conservation as examples of ways that she’s saved taxpayers money.

The bottom line is this: Mallach is putting in full-time hours. She, rightfully so, wants to be paid fairly for the time she’s putting in. And as anyone who’s negotiated their salary can attest, it’s not easy to ask for a big pay raise, even if you believe you deserve one. But the Harrietstown supervisor position is a part-time job. It has been for a long time. She knew this when running for the position. And when the next town supervisor takes over, they’ll inherit the same pay rate, even if they’re only working part-time. Mallach argues that the supervisor’s salary is up for adjustment every year, but how often do elected officials actually push for pay cuts, especially cuts to their own pay or the pay of a colleague?

Mallach was correct in pointing out that her counterparts in Essex County make significantly more than she does. But those are only full-time positions because town supervisors double as county representatives on the Essex County Board of Supervisors. In Franklin County, it’s different.

Does Mallach deserve to be paid for the hours she works? And would making the supervisor role full-time make the job more attractive to a wider range of candidates in the future, some of whom may not have the ability to take on a part-time job in addition to their other responsibilities? We think the answer to both of those questions is yes. But those aren’t the central questions here. The questions here are whether Harrietstown residents want a full-time town supervisor or a part-time one, and whether the town actually needs a full-time supervisor. The answers to those questions are less clear.

We hope the town board — which has final say in whether the pay raise is approved — considers those questions carefully.

While a raise may be warranted, more than doubling the supervisor’s salary may be too much too soon.


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