Officials exploring raise for first selectman position

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BEACON FALLS — The town is looking into the possibility of giving the first selectman position a raise.

The Board of Finance has formed an exploratory committee to research if an increase in the salary of the first selectman is warranted. The position, which is part time, is currently paid $34,236 a year.

The issue was raised by finance board member Joe Dowdell during the board’s August meeting. Dowdell said, in a recent interview, that he received information from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which listed the salaries of all of elected town officials in the state. According to Dowdell, the first selectman of Beacon Falls is the lowest paid when compared to other similar towns.

“The salary was significantly lower, based on size and population,” said Dowdell, who added the last time the first selectman received a raise was about five years ago.

CCM denied a request from the Citizen’s News for the information provided to Dowdell, stating it could not release that information to the press. Dowdell explained that he was also told by CCM that he could not provide the information he received to the media.

Local towns such as Woodbury and Seymour with first selectman do pay the position more, but it is listed as full time.

Woodbury, which has approximately twice the population, pays its first selectman $70,396 annually. Seymour pays its first selectman $72,769 a year.

In Oxford, the first selectman earns about $58,600 a year. The Oxford Town Charter doesn’t specify whether the position is full or part time, according to Oxford officials.

First Selectman Gerard Smith said the first selectman’s salary is not a new topic of discussion, and the town has been looking into matter for years.

Smith said even though the first selectman job is only part time, there are a lot of duties and responsibilities that come with it.

“It is a full-time position,” Smith said.

Dowdell said the exploratory committee shouldn’t take more than three months to come to a conclusion. The committee will bring the information to the Board of Finance first, then the Board of Selectmen. If a raise is approved, the new salary wouldn’t go into effect until after the 2013 election.

“Everything we are doing is just the beginning. It doesn’t mean we are giving anyone a raise. If any raises are given, it will not be until the next administration comes in,” Dowdell said.