Do you know how much your mayor earns in his or her position as a public servant in your village? Does he or she, in fact, earn any salary for what is most likely a very demanding, extremely time-consuming job? Could it be that some of our public officials and elected municipal officials actually end up spending their own money for local government related events?
Having queried dozens of friends, neighbors and "people on the street," the Great Neck Record was amazed to learn that most people had absolutely no idea what their local elected officials earn for those municipal positions. In fact, salaries for village mayors and trustees varies greatly, with most earning nothing, or almost nothing. Mayors and the trustees are in control of salaries, having the option to raise or lower the salaries of their own elected officials (including themselves).
Most people just assume that the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education trustees are compensated nicely for managing a large budget and a huge school district. The school board members, by law, earn absolutely nothing at all and receive absolutely no benefits, other than the satisfaction of doing a really tough job so very well.
The Great Neck Record contacted the Town of North Hempstead clerk, village officials, village/clerk treasurers and other elected municipal officials for the answers. All were forthcoming, as all of these salaries are a matter of public record.
In the Village of Great Neck, the mayor earns $5,000 annually, while the trustees each receive $2,400 a year. The village judge earns $36,000, while the acting village judge earns $1,800. The village assessor gets $500 each year for his work. Benefits are available, but do come with a price tag. With a population of around 9,500, and with a staff of 52 full-time employees, this busy village encompasses single family and multifamily homes, as well as apartment buildings, commercial and business districts. There is the Middle Neck Road main street and waterfront property on the eastern border of the village. Trustees report that their annual compensation is basically for expenses that the village cannot, legally, pay for, and often they are out-of-pocket at the end of the year.
In the Village of Great Neck Estates, none of the elected officials receive any salaries at all and there are no benefits offered either. The Estates' current population is about 2,700. This village consists of mainly one-family homes, though there is some commercial property on Middle Neck Road. And there is waterfront property on the village's western border, though this is residential or public parks for use by village residents. As for employees, Great Neck Estates, with its own police force, has about 30 employees, with more employed during the summer months.
The mayor and board of trustee members in the Village of Great Neck Plaza are the highest paid on this peninsula. When a mayor is elected in the Plaza, he or she has the option of working as a part-time mayor and earning $25,000 per year (as is the case with the current mayor), or working as a full-time mayor. The two prior mayors were full-time mayors and the immediate past full-time mayor earned $60,000 per year. Each trustee earns $9,000 a year. The judge earns $10,650 annually, and the acting village judge earns $7,225. The Plaza has a large full-time staff and, in a small space, includes the peninsula's busy downtown business/commercial/shopping area, single-family homes and many apartment buildings, and the Long Island Rail Road station.
The Village of Kensington also does not offer benefits nor salary to its mayor or board of trustee members. The village justice does receive $500 a year, but the acting village justice does not have a salary. Kensington has a population of about 1,200, all single living in single-family homes. There is no commercial or business district in the village, but there are six police officers employed in the village and one other part-time employee.
The Village of Kings Point offers no salary and no benefits to its mayor, trustees, village justice and acting village justice. Kings Point has a population of a little over 5,000, with 42 employees and 23 police officers. There is no commercial or business districts in the village, but it does house many schools and Great Neck Park District Schools, as well as the United States Merchant Marine Academy. There are only single-family homes in Kings Point, the northern most village on the peninsula.
The mayor and trustees in the Village of Lake Success each earn a small salary, although there are no benefits available. The mayor earns $3,600 annually, and each trustee earns $1,800. The village justice also earns $3,600 annually, but the acting village justice has no salary. The village, which has its own police force, has 77 full-time employees and 125 part-time positions (country club and summer employees). Around 3,000 residents live in Lake Success. The village does have some commercial and business areas.
In the Village of Russell Gardens, neither the mayor nor the trustees receive salaries, but the village justice earns $200 per session, totaling about $1600 each year. The acting village justice also receives $200 per court session, but does not often preside. There are no benefits available for any of these officials. Russell Gardens employs six full-time workers and two part-time workers. The 2,000 population is housed in both private one-family homes and an apartment building on South Middle Neck Road. There are some commercial establishments within the village on Northern Boulevard.
The mayor of the Village of Saddle Rock earns a salary of $15,000 per year, a rather recent change, as before August of 2005, the Saddle Rock mayor received no salary. The trustees, village justice and acting village justice earn no salaries from the village. There are no benefits. Saddle Rock is a small village consisting of 308 single-family homes; population about 1,200. There is no commercial or business area within this village; only village park area and a village hall. The village has only one full-time employee, but does hire pool employees during the summer months. Last summer, with no pool director, the mayor worked as the pool director.
Another village with unpaid officials is the Village of Thomaston; neither the mayor, trustees, justice nor acting justice earn any money as village officials. There are no available benefits either. Thomaston has six full-time employees and one part-time employee. The population is a little under 3,000. There are a few small business/commercial areas, on Northern Boulevard and on East Shore Road, and there are both apartment buildings and private one-family residences.
In the Town of North Hempstead, Supervisor Jon Kaiman, who is elected on a national party line, works full-time for the town and earns $133,00 per year. All of the elected town positions are elected along national party lines. Each town council member earns $40,000 per year and these are ostensibly part-time jobs, where the council members may hold down outside full-time employment.
The town clerk earns $85,000 per year and the town's receiver of taxes earns $90,000 per year.
There are available benefits for town employees.
Special districts, such as the Great Neck Park District and the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District, each have elected commissioners who do receive salary compensation and available benefits. Such compensation is as per New York State law and is administered by the Town of North Hempstead.
Currently, the special district commissioners earn $80 a day for each day they work, with a maximum of $20,000. A sample of special district commissioners produced the response that they rarely earn the maximum. At this time, there is a possibility that these amounts might be raised, although the town must approve any such raise.
The Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education trustees do not, and may not legally, earn any salary from the school district. There are absolutely no available benefits either. With a large budget, a large number of employees (teachers, administrators, maintenance staff, etc.) and an entire school district encompassing both Great Neck and parts of New Hyde Park, there is a great deal of work and tremendous responsibility, but no pay.
The Great Neck Public Schools educate and serve residents from pre-K children, to kindergarten through twelfth grade students, to those in the district's Adult Program.
Says GNPSP Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz, "There are no benefits other than knowing that we are doing a good job."
The members of the board of trustees of the Great Neck Library do not earn any salaries. The only benefit available to these trustees is the waiver of late fines. Though this fine waiver is available for life for current and past library board members, library director Arlene Nevens reports that most pay anyway.
With a $7.8 million annual budget and over 120 employees, the library services the population of the entire school district.
The Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education trustees do not earn any salary and there are no benefits available to school board members.