Letter: Proposal to raise first selectman’s salary an insult

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letters_flatTo the editor,

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.

Lauren Classey

Beacon Falls

(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.)

5 COMMENTS

  1. @joe – i suppose then it’s fortunate for the town that I have 5 cars registered in beacon falls and have for the past 20 years and I pay taxes on all of them. Sticking to the subject would be more appropriate.

  2. @lauren, you are correct I did not mention that the previous administration’s discussion was to take 4 years to reach the $60,000. My comment was that they AGREED to the amount of $60,000, since the amount of the salary seems to be your concern. Apparently one of the Selectman wanted it to be even higher. My point was that this concept is not a new discussion, but the continuation of the previous. Where was the “insult” then. You took the minutes as you say. Did you write a letter then? And from your comment, it seems that $60,000 is okay as long as it is phased in. Hearing that other 1st Selectmen have salary and benefits, this proposal is not out of line.

    As to be able to pay for an increase in the town budget, maybe the if all residents of Beacon Falls registered their cars in this state, we would generate more tax dollars. My car is registered here and I pay my fair share.

  3. The Board of Finance has yet to decide on the issue of the First Selectman’s salary increase, which will only take effect AFTER the next election. There are many other important issues to be discussed. The public is encouraged to attend the budget workshop on Wednesday, April 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Assembly Hall. The Board of Finance will hold a Public Hearing on the budget, yet to be voted on, at a later date to be determined. The Town residents will then vote on the budget at a Town meeting or referendum at least 2 weeks after the Public Hearing.

  4. @jd06403 since you directed us to the link I’m sure you noticed that I was the one who took those minutes and what was left out in your response to my letter was that they agreed to start an increase of the first selectmans salary at increments of $6,200 per year until they reached the amount that was agreed upon. If the recommendation that was noted in the minutes you refer to was to be followed, the amount of the increase that Mr. Smith is proposing would be reached over a 9 year period. (in increments of $6,200 increases per year – including benefits which were not agreed upon in the noted minutes). A much more reasonable request don’t you think? As opposed to a 139% raise in one swoop. We are still considering the taxpayers one would hope.

  5. Reading the minutes from the joint Selectmen and Finance meeting this past week, apparently raising the 1st Selectman’s salary is not 1st Selectman’s Smith idea. He is talking lead from former 1st Selectman Cable’s administration, where they agreed to raise the salary to $60,000. I looked up these minutes from March 2011 and sure enough, all three Selectman agreed to the raise for the 1st Selectman. Here is the link for those that care to know the background. http://www.beaconfalls-ct.org/Pages/BeaconFallsCT_SelectmenMin/2011/sbos38m.pdf .

    I can only assume that Cable’s defeat in the fall of 2011, kept the plan from being initiated.