NAUGATUCK — The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Board of Finance last Tuesday approved raises for three elected officials, including the mayor, and 18 non-union employees.
The salaries for the mayor, tax collector and town clerk — all positions up for election in November — will increase 2.5% this fiscal year and the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The joint boards only increase salaries for elected positions in election years, to avoid giving out raises mid-term. Those who supported the raises for the three elected positions felt they’re needed to bring the salaries more in line with other similar municipalities.
The mayor’s salary increased from $88,017 to $90,218 and will go up to $92,473 next fiscal year.
Figures from a salary survey conducted by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities showed the average salary for chief elected officials in municipalities with a similar population to Naugatuck was $92,994 in 2018-19, according to Human Resources Director John Lawlor. Lawlor said he didn’t factor in some towns in the more-affluent Fairfield County with similar populations because they pay higher salaries and tend to drive the average up.
Board of Finance Chairman Daniel Sheridan said several major department heads in the borough make significantly more than the mayor.
Deputy Mayor Laurie Taf-Jackson said the salary isn’t equivalent to the amount of work the mayor position entails.
Not everyone agreed.
Burgess Jack DeOliveira said he feels Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess is doing a great job, but he doesn’t think the borough should increase the salaries for elected positions after cutting items in the budget.
DeOliveira, burgesses Dorothy Hoff, Rocky Vitale and Donald Wisniewski voted against the increase. Hess, who’s running unopposed for a third term, abstained.
The tax collector’s salary increased to $61,500, while the town clerk went up to $62,525.
Lawlor said the average tax collector’s salary in towns with about the same population was $84,365 in 2018-19, while the average salary for town clerks was $75,047, according the survey.
DeOliveira, Vitale, Wisniewski, Burgess Mike Bronko and finance board member Alexander Olbrys voted against the increase for the tax collector. Finance board member Joseph Savarese abstained.
DeOliveira, Vitale, Bronko and Olbrys voted against the increase for the town clerk.
Tax Collector James Goggin, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican Kasdyn Click. Town Clerk Michelle Dowling was cross endorsed for another term.
All the raises approved last week total about $25,000 this fiscal year. The non-union salary review board met in February to discuss the raises and set aside money in the 2019-20 budget to cover them. The raises, though, can’t be approved until after the budget is officially adopted, officials said.
The raises for non-union employees, which included the two deputy registrar of voters and eight part-time employees, are based on performance reviews. In a couple cases, the salaries increased to match an increase in the minimum wage.
In a case like Naugatuck Senior Center Director Harvey Frydman, who some officials felt is underpaid, the joint boards approved a raise to make the salary more competitive. The joint boards increased the senior center director’s salary 5.45% to about $55,000.
The joint boards also increased Fire Chief Ellen Murray’s salary 2% to $103,442, Controller Allyson Bruce’s salary 2.25% to $120,233, Purchasing/Financial Analyst Robert Butler’s salary 2% to 93,773, and Borough Engineer Wayne Zirolli’s salary 2.25% to $98,648.