Town of New Paltz leaders are looking at ways to retool some full- and part-time positions to adapt to changing needs. Some council members believe that this is also an opportunity to address issues of pay equity.
Chuck Bordino has retired as the town’s recreation director, but will continue working as much as 29 hours a week through the end of the year, at which time a full-time replacement will be needed. Bordino no longer receives health benefits as a part-timer, and the shortfall in hours will be made up by two individuals who won’t work more than six hours a week. What Supervisor Neil Bettez hopes to do is hire someone who will be able to build on the overlaps among recreation, youth and community wellness programming and help unify what’s offered through those several departments. This would be a departure from the sports focus of recreation programming that’s been a hallmark of Bordino’s tenure. Those athletic activities would not be ended, but synergy with other departments with recreation would be explored under this model.
Justices in the town court have also been advocating for more money for one of the clerks there, who has had a good deal more responsibility since the onset of the pandemic. A “side letter” to increase that pay rate until the start of the next contract was approved.
There’s also a growing need to get minutes taken in certain meetings. While paid staff members do take minutes at the meetings of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, they are also responsible for managing files and working with members of the public who submit applications. For most volunteer boards, a member must take the minutes, but the supervisor’s confidential secretary has done this for the Environmental Conservation Community Preservation Fund boards. Police Commission minutes have been recorded by the town clerk in recent years, as the commissioners were the town council members. Since minutes for these three bodies are already deemed important enough to be taken by a paid individual, Bettez wants to hire a single person that will work up to 12 hours a month on that task, including attending several meetings.
Adding a new minute-taker was received well enough, but the pay rate of $15 per hour was not. These jobs are often filled by women, pointed out Alex Baer, and the fact that the union contracts allow for them to be hired at that rate when recycling workers make more than $20 an hour to start didn’t sit well with the council member. Moreover, committing to a small part-time job with fixed hours could mean giving up other work, meaning that a higher rate of pay could increase longevity in the position.
Esi Lewis feels that many town workers are underpaid, and that these issues could be addressed starting with this job. Bettez urged more caution, pointing out that some longtime workers who make similarly low wages could take it personally if newcomers were hired at a higher rate.
Baer suggested no less than $17 an hour, but Lewis suggested $20. In the end, it was agreed to advertise the position with those numbers as a range, based on experience. The two women hired for six hours a week at the recreation center will earn $16 an hour; no council member suggested a different rate of pay.