Mayor Andre Sayegh’s chief of staff Kathleen Long received an 11-percent raise, according to government records.
Long’s salary was increased from $90,000 to $100,000. She had been hired by the mayor in Jul. 2018.
“She took a pay cut when she accepted the position of chief of staff here,” said Sayegh. She had taken a $10,000 pay cut, he said. “She was willing to take a pay cut because she wanted to be a part of the team, part of the progress of Paterson.”
Long did not respond to a message for comment.
“She’s done a lot of the heavy lifting,” said the mayor. He cited the health insurance program change from self-insurance to state plan which will save millions in the coming years and the sewer billing reforms. “Her work ethic is unparalleled. She’s indefatigable and efficient. She’s productive.”
Sayegh pointed out Long is a Patersonian.
“She does more than a normal staffer. She puts in a lot of work,” said Flavio Rivera, councilman at-large, chairman of the finance committee. “She deserves the increase based on what she’s been doing.”
“She’s been very effective in her operations,” added William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman.
Still, Rivera wanted to see a justification for the increase. He wanted to know whether it was based on her work or based on extra responsibilities assigned to her.
Sayegh’s administration raised taxes and sewer fees on property owners in the current fiscal year.
“It’s budget neutral,” said Sayegh speaking of Long’s increase. He said the retirement of desk secretary Alana Onorato at the mayor’s office freed up $71,000. A portion of it was used for Long’s pay increase.
McKoy questioned the wisdom of giving out pay increases even before a full year has elapsed since the hiring. He said an effort should be made to cut expenses permanently rather than spending money that is freed up.
Last year, the City Council pushed through pay increases for eight clerks, giving each a $10,000 raise. McKoy pointed out that was done after the city identified the duties of the clerks. Some of them were working out of title. Once the duties and responsibilities were identified each clerk was assigned the correct title of administrative secretary which has a higher base salary than keyboarding clerk.