NAUGATUCK — The borough’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 includes more than $34,000 in salary increases for non-union employees such as the mayor, tax collector, town clerk and fire chief.
The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses approved the raises earlier this month, based on recommendations from a non-union salary review committee of burgesses, finance board members and Controller Wayne McAllister.
Many of the raises were given to make the salaries competitive with the same positions in similarly sized towns, said Diane Scinto, chairwoman of the finance board and a member of the salary review committee. The position of mayor, which currently earns almost $75,000, received a $5,000 annual raise for two years beginning next term.
East Haven, a town slightly smaller than the borough, pays its mayor $75,000, while New Milford and Torrington pay close to $90,000 and Branford pays nearly $99,000, Scinto said.
Burgess Ronald San Angelo, a former two-term mayor, said the salary increase was a savings because the higher pay will attract more qualified candidates with experience managing multimillion-dollar budgets.
“We do not elect the best-quality candidates for mayor in this town because a lot of the best people won’t even consider running for the position based on the salary,” San Angelo said.
Mayor Robert Mezzo abstained from voting on the mayor’s salary.
The tax collector and town clerk, both elected positions earning about $56,000, received 2 percent annual raises for two years beginning next term.
Both registrars of voters, part-time elected workers making $4,000 each per year, also received 2 percent annual raises for two years beginning next term.
The assessor makes $55,000, which Scinto said was at least $20,000 less than the same position in comparable towns. The joint boards voted to give the position, currently held by George Hlavacek, a 2 percent raise for next fiscal year.
Fire Chief Ken Hanks, Deputy Fire Chief Ellen Murray, Street Superintendent Robert Roland and all non-union employees will also receive 2 percent raises next fiscal year under the adopted budget.
Human Resource Associate Carmella Rinaldi, who has been earning about $31,000, will receive a 5 percent increase, or about $1,500 more next fiscal year.
Officials argued Rinaldi’s salary was especially low for her responsibilities, which include human resource functions for hundreds of borough employees when Human Resource Director John Lawlor is absent or focusing on school system workers.
“She has consistently risen to whatever challenge,” Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi said. “She’s carried this borough.”