Watertown lawmakers reject proposal to raise their salaries

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A proposal to raise the salaries of the city of Watertown’s mayor and council members has been ditched after a budget meeting.

“Would a $3,000 increase be helpful? Yeah, sure. But is it the smart thing to do at this particular time and what we’re dealing with in this political cycle? I think not,” said council member Cliff Olney.

Olney says there’s a lack of public faith in city council following recent financial decisions. He was the first council member to strike down Mayor Smith’s proposal for salary increases, and council members Sarah Compo Pierce and Lisa Ruggiero quickly followed suit.

“Let the new council next year be the ones to discuss that,” said Ruggiero.

City spending like the golf course purchase was a key talking point, with Smith warning that the city’s spending habits could put it in a budget deficit years down the line once federal COVID funds run out.

“I’ve been around when we had to borrow for police cars. I’ve been around when we were paying back interest rates from the 80s - 16, 17% interest,” said Smith.

City council will reconvene for another meeting on Monday.