After reading the minutes from the Beacon Falls Board of Selectmen’s meeting as well as an article in the Citizens News regarding Beacon Falls 2013-14 proposed fiscal year budget (proposed by only two of the three Selectmen) I was very confused and disturbed.
The current First Selectman, Gerry Smith, is proposing that the town’s budget (taxpayer’s money) include a salary increase for the first selectman of approximately $34,200 plus medical benefits (an additional $12,000 per year) for a total increase of approximately $46,200. The current salary of the first selectman is $34,200 without medical benefits. Gerry Smith is proposing that we, the taxpayers, pay to increase his salary to $68,400 (a 100 percent increase — plus adding the benefits making it a total of a 139 percent increase).
Keep in mind that this position is an elected position and has always been fought very hard for. It has always been staffed at a part-time salary no matter how many hours were necessary to get the job done. What has changed so drastically in the town of Beacon Falls since Gerry Smith ran for election in October of 2011? Have the responsibilities of running the town changed? Has our town increased in size? Have we added more town employees? The answer to the above questions is none of the above. For the First Selectman to recommend to the Board of Finance that his salary and benefits be increased by approximately 139 percent (increase of $46,000) is an absolute insult to me as a taxpayer of the town of Beacon Falls, especially in such a struggling economy.
As former clerk for the Board of Selectmen and also the Board of Finance for many years, I am familiar with how this process will work. Two of the selectman have already voted to include this salary increase in the fiscal 2013-14 budget. The Board of Finance will now need to decide if this increase will stay in the budget. I sincerely hope that those who see this the same way that I do will get out to a Board of Selectmen or Board of Finance meeting or at least ask to be included in the email distribution of meeting minutes. Based on my experience, the Board of Finance will listen to the people of the town (at least they should listen). If they hear displeasure from enough taxpayers, they will act appropriately, again, at least they should.
Please keep informed and talk with your neighbors and above all, please get out and vote. Your vote definitely counts and part of the upcoming proposed 6.8 percent town of Beacon Falls fiscal year budget increase, is an increase of approximately 139 percent for the first selectman’s yearly salary.
(Editor’s note: The proposed salary increase to make the first selectman position full-time would not take effect until after the November 2013 elections.)