As published in the Record Journal Sunday May 5, 2013
Kevin Markowski’s above-placed editorial cartoon hits the nail on the head (or, if you prefer, delivers “shattering” news).
Echoing Wednesday’s news story (R-J, 5-1), Wallingford Town Council voted unanimously to increase its annual mayoral salary by $12,000 at a budget workshop, April 30. In Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.’s $147.94 million budget proposal for the next fiscal year, he perpetuated his salary at a figure that has been static since at least 2002: namely, $73,140.
If this increase comes to full fruition (pending final approval hurdles while surviving potential flaming budgetary veto hoops), Wallingford’s mayor would eventually be paid $85,140 annually. Whether Dickinson wants it or not doesn’t change the fact that he deserves salary improvement. Moreover, the chief administrative post itself is worthy of a salary realignment.
In our editorial of April 8, Dickinson received a nod for reserve through self-denial. His is a disciplined, unselfish response to budgeting during adverse economic fiscal seasons.
Still, compensation of $85,140 (though a distinct betterment) keeps Wallingford in a stubbornly noncompetitive zone among municipal peers. Whether in the fullness of time or more immediately, salary adjustments should be made to keep remuneration commensurate with posts held. Whether city manager, town manager or, say,superintendent of schools, municipal salaries would do well to have reasonable basis of comparison.
Thus, it’s gratifying that councilors would also like to see the mayor’s pay incrementally increased to about $130,000 over time.
We’ve noted that the overarching consideration extends to a time when this mayor is no longer officeholder, whether by his choice or future election results. To attract top quality candidates, Wallingford may need to up its ante by around $60,000 annually, give or take. An eventual new chief executive must not be “compared” in a pejorative light of requisite salary differential (i.e. what “used to be acceptable” vs. what no longer cuts fiscal mustard).
It’s said that comparisons are odious but inevitable. Here, then, are a sobering few: 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.
At this budget-planning juncture, Wallingford seems poised to advance in the right direction, even if by relative baby steps vis-à-vis municipal apples-for-apples salaried counterparts. Paying the piper for a quality tune represents prudent investment in the town’s future.