Be careful about pay

City of Johnstown officials should be careful in considering whether members of the Water Board should be paid.

Board President Nicholas Cannizzo Sr. and Vice President John Pradelski recently asked the

Johnstown Common Council to approve pay for the Water Board’s five members, who are all elected.

Cannizzo recommended the president and vice president be paid $75 per board meeting and other members receive $50 per board meeting. The members would be paid with city Water Department money. The Water Board is a separate entity from city government but must gain council approval in certain matters, such as this one.

The council took no action – which was the right decision, for now. The council has a few things to think about.

First, the council should look at whether not paying the board members is hurting the department. If the Water Board is able to attract enough candidates to fill seats in each Water Board election, we would see no need to pay members.

We understand members of the Water Board may put a lot of time into their efforts, which is commendable. However, there are plenty of volunteers in the community who put in time. Just because the members of the Water Board are elected, it does not mean they need to be paid. It’s worth noting that members of the Gloversville Water Board receive no pay.

The Johnstown council also should consider whether allowing Water Board members to be paid could lead to volunteers on other city boards seeking payment.

If the council approves pay for Water Board members, we suggest a limit on the total amount each member could be paid in a year. Without that written into an agreement, pay disputes could arise.

The decision on whether the board members should be paid is not a simple one.