But the $20,800 paid to Ferrante was excessive, Cardon said.
Cardon voted in favor of Councilor Mark Osborne’s motion to cut the budget by 77 percent earlier this week.
“I think we’re paying a lot of money for that,” Cardon said. “I think $20,800 is way too much to pay for that position.”
He said he didn’t know of any town that paid that amount of money to its farmers market manager.
Neither did Jane Lang, the volunteer manager of the Salem Farmers Market.
She said her market is run on an annual budget of $5,000, money received from vendors. That money is mostly used for gas, signs and advertising, she said.
Lang said she was shocked to hear Ferrante earned $20,800. The purpose of a farmers market is to provide fresh produce at a reasonable cost — not make a lot of money, she said.
“It’s just to keep the market going,” Lang said.
Cardon and Osborne said although they thought the town was paying too much to fund the market, they didn’t anticipate closing it.
“It was never our intention to cancel the farmers market,” Osborne said. “It was our intention to make reasonable cuts in all areas of the budget.”
He said he could not justify paying $20,800 to the market manager when revenues were half that amount,
The decision to slash the market’s budget came shortly before councilors approved a $37 million budget that included cuts to many departments, including police, Fire and Public Works, Osborne said.
As a result, there will not be an increase in the town portion of the tax rate — $10.39 per $1,000 valuation.
None of the other councilors could be reached yesterday for comment.