January 4, 2015
Letter to the Editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to explain my reasons for voting “no” on two of the three salary ordinances during the December 15, 2014 council meeting. By way of background, most of our employee salaries are set during contract negotiations with two unions, the PBA for the police department, with the exception of the chief of police, and the OPEIU that covers most of the other town employees. The council approved both contracts after they were negotiated. Employees that were not covered by labor contracts were placed in a third ordinance. (10-14). This included the town manager, chief financial officer, municipal clerk, tax collector and heads of departments with supervisory responsibilities.
The employees covered by the OPEIU contract were included in Ordinance 9-14 and that passed on a unanimous five votes. The Ordinance 11-14 contained the chief of police and the remaining police officers. I voted “no” on this as did Councilman Nochimson. Our vote was against raising the salary for the chief of police. This was based upon the long standing problems that came to light when the local PBA filed a complaint against the information technology personnel for lack of support and in some cases obstruction to the ability to perform their jobs. An internal review revealed the complaint was justified and corrective action needed to be taken. Simply put, I believe the chief should have taken a more active role in addressing these issues before a complaint was filed and I did not feel a raise was justified.
I voted “no” on the ordinance that contained the employees not covered by contracts (10-14) and was once again joined by Councilman Nochimson. The raises were all recommended by the town manager. Councilman Nochimson questioned Mr. Martin on his basis for recommending the salaries and whether or not he had formally evaluated his department heads. Mr. Martin indicated there were no formal evaluations and his recommendations were based upon his interactions with the individuals. He also included a 2% raise for himself even though the council has not completed his evaluation. He also recommended the salary of our new municipal clerk without any input from the council. This is a violation of the statues regarding the municipal clerk in my opinion. Voting “yes” on this salary ordinance may have been legal but the lack of proper justification for the proposed salary increases was an endorsement of a flawed process and sets a bad precedent. It passed on a 3 to 2 vote.
The town manager has a great deal of authority under our form of government; however, I believe the main responsibility of the council is to ensure the taxpayers money is being spent wisely. Based upon the lack of information I received I was unable to vote yes on this ordinance.
Councilman Kevin Ryan