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NOV 04- NOV 12, 2014

Water Board Bigwigs Take Pay, Benefits Hikes Back to Where They Really Live

By Mike Hudson

November 04, 2014

They call it a “Two -For”: Water Board Executive Director leads charge to raise water rates and his salary at the same time!

While Paul Drof, executive director of the city’s water and sewer services, and his board of directors have blamed the cost of employee health care coverage for their threatened three percent raise in water and sewer rates, their new budget includes generous raises for themselves.

And what’s more, Drof and his board receive gold-plated Tier One health care coverage that covers 100 percent of all medical costs despite the fact that none of them worked for the board before May 1, 2006, the cutoff date for Tier One health insurance coverage.

By contract, water and sewer employees hired after May 1, 2006, receive Tier Two health care coverage that requires them to pay 20 percent of any medical costs out of their own pockets.

But the leadership team at the Water Board certainly looks after its own needs. Under the Water Board’s proposed 2015 budget, Drof will see an increase of $7,400, from his current $102,600 annual paycheck to $110,000.

The rest of the leadership team will also get raises:

Anthony Hahn, the newly hired director of administrative services, will receive a $15,000 increase, raising his annual salary from $70,000 to $85,000. William Milroy, who is listed as a systems engineer, will see a $7,503 pay increase -- from $61,497 to $70,000. Norman Allen, director of infrastructure operations who was formerly the director of Lockport’s Department of Public Works and was hired by the Niagara Falls Water Board several months ago, will go from $85,000 to $86,276.

Mary Jean Buddenhagen, director of financial services, will also see her salary jump from $85,000 to $86,276.

Richard Roll, director of tech. and reg. services will get a hefty raise from $80,200 to $90,145 this year.

Drof, Allen, Buddenhagen, Hahn, and Roll, along with O&M Manager Julie Hoy and Safety Specialist James Murphy, all receive Tier One health care benefits despite the fact that none of them were hired before 2006, the cutoff date for water and sewer union workers to receive the Tier One coverage.

Curiously, none of the directors, who make their livings off water bills paid by Niagara Falls residents and business owners, actually live in Niagara Falls.

Drof lives in Williamsville, Hahn lives in Sanborn, Hoy makes her home in Appleton, Allen lives in Lockport, Buddington lives in the Town of Niagara and Roll lives in East Amherst.

There is no residency requirement for directors of the Niagara Falls Water Board and for years, the appointed board of directors seems to favor out of town directors.

Salaries of between $70,000 and $110,000 are also significantly higher than the $33,832 median household income of the Niagara Falls.

When residents pay their three percent increase they might like to consider that it helps go to pay hikes for out-of-town directors who manage their water supply, who live life good at their expense and ironically don’t have to pay for the product - water - that they manage.

The creation of the Niagara Falls Water Board was, in effect, the taking of control of water service in Niagara Falls from the city to the state.

Of the five members of the appointed board,, one is appointed from the state senate, one from the state assembly, one from the governor, one from the mayor and one from the city council - which means that Albany officials control, by a three-two vote, the water service of Niagara Falls.

The results speak for themselves.





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