Highway superintendent could see his salary increase by $20,000 for extra duties

The newly elected road superintendent will see his salary increased by $20,000 under a proposal put forward by Riverhead Town officials.

The salary of Mike Zaleski, who started the new role at the start of the year, would rise from $94,803 to $114,803. A public hearing on the proposal at Tuesday’s city council meeting drew just one speaker. The increase will not take effect for at least 45 days, during which time a referendum could be filed by residents against the proposal. The salary increase would be pro-rated for the remainder of the year upon approval.

Michael Zalesky

The $20,000 difference stems from the city assigning additional duties and responsibilities to the roads superintendent related to the municipal garage, according to assistant city attorney Annemarie Prudenti.

The city offered the same additional $20,000 to former highway superintendent George “Gio” Woodson when he agreed to take over management of the city garage in 2018, Ms. Prudenti said.

After the city council vote, residents would have 45 days to decide whether or not to start a petition against the increase.

Resident Ellen Hoil asked why this extra money was not in the city budget.

City Finance Administrator Bill Rothaar said the money was in the budget, but it’s in the city garage budget, rather than the highway department budget.

Officials said the extra money was budgeted into the municipal garage because it was uncertain whether a new highway superintendent would want the extra duties.

Ms. Prudenti said the notice of public hearing for the preliminary budget must contain the salaries of elected officials like the supervisor, members of the city council, the city clerk and the superintendent of roads.

She said Mr. Woodson received the additional $20,000 for running the municipal garage from 2018 to 2021, when his last term ended. He chose not to run again in 2021.

City Council closed Tuesday’s hearing on the wage increase and will allow written comments for 14 days, until April 1 at 4:30 p.m. at the city clerk’s office.

William M. Mayer