Borough boards to consider raises for 5 employees

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NAUGATUCK — The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses will decide Monday whether to give raises to five non-union borough employees, as recommended by a salary review board.

“Some of these positions, we have not properly funded,” salary review board member Diane Scinto said. The non-union salary review board in December recommended raises for Assessor George Hlavacek, Borough Engineer Wayne Zirolli, mini-bus driver Steven Cutler, human resource associate Carmella Rinaldi and Controller Wayne McAllister.

The recommendations came after the board, chaired by Burgess Robert Burns, reviewed a Connecticut Conference of Municipalities salary survey conducted last year. Pay for some non-union borough employees was compared to salaries for the same positions in similar-sized municipalities in similar economic situations, said Scinto, who also serves on the finance board.

The salary review board recommended Hlavacek receive a 9.1 percent raise, from $55,000 to $60,000, effective last Nov. 4. Of the recommended increase, 3 percent was based on merit and the rest on an adjustment to reflect the market for town assessors.

Zirolli was recommended for a 3 percent merit increase, effective last Oct. 7, upping his salary from nearly $85,000 to more than $87,000.

The board recommended Cutler’s compensation increase by $1 per hour, from $13.39 to $14.39 hourly, effective May 26. Rinaldi’s salary was recommended to increase June 13 from $30,000 to nearly $33,000. Their increases would be timed to the anniversaries of their employment.

McAllister, a member of the salary review board, left the room while the other three members discussed his salary, according to meeting minutes. Board members said he had not received a raise since becoming controller more than four years ago.

Scinto proposed McAllister’s salary be increased from about $89,000 to nearly $94,000.

McAllister also receives a $20,000 stipend from the Board of Education to serve as its business manager, an amount increased last year from $15,000. Before McAllister took over the school board’s finances, their business manager was paid about $100,000, Scinto said.

“I think Wayne is grossly underpaid for everything that he’s doing between the Board of Education and the town,” Scinto said. “In this economy, our bond rating is phenomenal.”

After reviewing the CCM survey, the salary review board found that in some cases, employees were making 20 percent less than they might in a comparable municipality, Scinto said.

The findings sparked a discussion at a February joint boards meeting, when a vote on the recommendations was tabled.

“We’re going to lose quality people,” Burgess Ronald San Angelo said. “Once it gets here and it comes to this, it gets so difficult to get our non-union people any money.”

Officials said Marco Gaspar, the borough’s human resource associate until last year, had a master’s degree and performed exceptionally, but Rinaldi replaced him when he left for a higher-paying job.

“We had lost a good person previous to that because of a salary issue,” said Bob Butler, chair of the finance board and a member of the salary review board.

In some cases, such as Hlavacek’s, salaries were determined as part of a much larger agreement, Mayor Robert Mezzo said.

The assessor’s salary was set in 2009 when the position came out of the borough’s supervisors’ union, in an agreement that also included early retirement packages. Then-Assessor Joyce Alegi was among those who retired and were replaced by lower-paid employees to offset the cost of the retirement incentives.

Mezzo agreed Friday that non-union employees often get discouraged by their failure to receive raises despite good job performance.

“I think it’s pretty consistent year after year that most of the individuals in positions that are recommended are deserving,” Mezzo said. “The real question is, what can we afford?”