Koetzle tries putting lipstick on a turkey
Backpedaling after the public relations nightmare he created by trying to give himself a $64,000 raise without public input, Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle has scheduled an informational forum on the subject for 7 p.m. tonight at the Glenville Senior Center. It’s the kind of thing he should have done before asking the Town Board to approve a salary switcheroo with Operations Director Jamie MacFarland as part of next year’s budget, but better late than never.
Indeed, Koetzle still doesn’t seem to understand that the issue with his maneuver wasn’t so much substance, but style; springing it on the Town Board and public a day after being re-elected to his part-time post and insisting it was too late to even let the public weigh in on it.
He may have said, both before and during the campaign, that he considered the job full-time because of all the hours he puts in, but that’s hardly the same as saying he intended to formally make it full-time, with accompanying salary. In the heat of a campaign, voters could hardly be blamed for dismissing such statements as political — an effort to convince them of his willingness to work full time for less-than-full-time pay (in contrast to his opponent, who was advocating making the post full-time).
That MacFarland didn’t announce his intentions until a day after the election gave Koetzle some cover for not bringing the issue up beforehand; but even if he didn’t know for sure when the operations director was leaving, he acknowledges being aware of the possibility for some time. All the more reason for him to have been more up-front about his plan before Election Day.
As for MacFarland’s “retirement,” it’s unclear whether he would be doing so more than technically. Koetzle wants him to stick around in a part-time capacity for another year, being paid his (Koetzle’s) part-time supervisor’s salary and performing some of the administrative functions he’s performed all along. The town would save a little money on his benefits, but that’s about it.
The outrage expressed by many people prior to the Nov. 20 budget vote was understandable, even if politically motivated in some cases. The board has wisely researched the matter and found an accommodation for formal public input (Wednesday’s meeting). And tonight’s informational session, which also will give citizens a chance to speak out, is also a good idea.
But under the circumstances — plus the fact that Koetzle, a Republican, is asking an all-GOP board to do his bidding — it may not be a bad idea for Glenville residents to push for a referendum, as apparently allowed by state law.