ENFIELD, N.Y.—At this week’s Enfield Town Board meeting, the 2023 budget advanced another step towards approval with a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26.
The budget is set to increase the total raised from property taxes by 8.5 percent, from $1,962,350 in 2022 to $2,128,875 in 2023. The general budget went up 18.5 percent and the highway budget increased 8.92 percent, both of which were offset by budget cuts in other areas.
The budget sets the salaries for elected officials—$25,500 for the supervisor, $3,672 for town councilpersons, $35,000 for the town clerk and $71,680 for the highway superintendent. This is an increase from $25,000, $3,600, $32,000 and $64,000, respectively, last year.
Stephanie Redmond, supervisor for the Town of Enfield, said she has done research on highway superintendent salaries and found that the Enfield highway superintendent position is underpaid compared to neighboring municipalities. She said the town had been unable to increase the highway superintendent’s salary much in 2020 due to the pandemic, or in 2021 due to residual recovery, and while inflation is currently high, she felt now was the time to act.
“I felt we couldn’t keep using that as a reason for not paying our staff adequately,” Redmond said of difficult economic times in recent years.
Ellen Woods, secretary of Enfield Volunteer Fire Company and former Town Clerk for Enfield, spoke at the end of meeting privilege of the floor, after the budget vote, as a citizen who serves several roles in the community instead of as a representative of the fire company. She said that while she supports a higher salary for the supervisor, as well as insurance, the supervisor does not work harder than the clerk, and has challenged any board member who thinks otherwise to shadow the clerk.
“I support the supervisor tracking her hours, I support an increase for the supervisor, but let it never be said in the Enfield Town Board again that the supervisor works harder than the clerk,” Woods said, “because a three-hour board meeting is at least nine hours of clerk work.”
Woods added that unlike many towns, the Enfield town clerk is responsible for maintaining the town’s website. She describes website maintenance as a “bonus” that she formerly and current Town Clerk Mary Cornell provide as a service to the town.
“It’s not that the clerk has less work,” Woods said, “it’s that she wears more hats.”
Woods also expressed concern over a lack of funding for personal protective equipment for firefighters. According to her, she sometimes has to respond to calls with personal protective equipment from the 1990s, which she said was ill-fitting, increased her risk of cancer and not suited to crawling around on concrete due to lacking knee pads.
“I now only have one set of gear,” Woods said, “which means if I respond to an actual fire, I’m out of service until my gear is properly serviced. I can’t respond to another fire that might happen the next day.”
Robert Lynch, a member of the board, expressed amazement at how efficient the meeting was, since it began at 6:30 p.m. and adjourned at 8 p.m. after the budget vote and the monthly business. He said the town board worked well together, despite their disagreements.
“I just want to say this was a very amicable budget process,” Lynch said. “Yes, we did have disagreements, we settled those disagreements by Robert’s Rules of Order, and we didn’t have a fight, we never had a real contentious time of this. We’ve still got some steps to go in the budget process, but I think we’re doing okay.”
The preliminary budget is posted on the town of Enfield’s website, and copies of the preliminary budget will be available at the Enfield Town Hall during normal business hours: 2-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.