Editorial as published in the Record Journal Monday April 8, 2013
“I won’t stop saying ‘no’ until I’m the lowest-paid employee in the town.”
Thus quips editorial cartoonist Kevin Markowski in his caption atop this page vis-à-vis Wallingford Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.’s decision to (yet again) forgo a salary increase. It’s a practice perpetuated since at least 2002, whereby he’s kept a steady salary of $73,140.
Markowski’s tongue-in cheek humor reflects a concern among some Wallingford residents and town officials that perpetuating a manifestly low chief executive’s salary year after year produces something of a double-edged sword: On the one hand, it gleams when sparkling in the sunlight of Dickinson’s disciplined determination to set, by way of personal example, restraints on municipal spending during what he refers to as “bad times.”
On the other metaphorical hand, it presents a blunted, non-cutting competitive edge among mayoral/manager peers in other Connecticut towns and cities. In our April 4 news story, for examples, we reported that, as of 2011, the following annual salaries were paid: Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback, $149,000; Meriden City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior, $139,000; Michael Milone, Cheshire Town Manager, $131,350.
Though some question Dickinson’s non-progressive salary in relation to other Wallingford top municipal staff (including, say, that of the Superintendent of Schools), the overarching consideration extends to a time when this mayor is no longer office-holder, whether by his choice or future election results. To attract top quality candidates, Wallingford will necessarily have to up the ante by around $60,000 annually, give or take.
When that fullness of time naturally occurs, one hopes that the new chief executive will not be “compared” in a pejorative light of requisite salary differentials but on the merits of his or her leadership abilities.
For his part, Mayor Dickinson deserves a nod for reserve through self-denial. Taxpayers should bear in mind, however, that the above-mentioned two-edged sword will inevitably be held to the standard of competitive daylight.