The Board of Selectmen agreed to raising the town clerk and treasurer/tax collector wages above the agreed-upon 2.5 percent, but rejected their initial requests as too high.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen approved a few last minute items in the budget Tuesday night with the Advisory Board.
The Advisory Board asked the Board of Selectmen about line items in the budget they did not feel qualified to change.
The budget contains a general 2.5 percent increase to town employee salaries, however, some workers asked for a larger increase.
"I think the overriding theme we got from a number of the departments was a concern over levels of salary and the ability to replace people should they leave," William Craig, chairman of the Advisory Board said. "We heard that in a number of different places."
Board members said they did not have enough information on many of the job descriptions and did not feel comfortable providing more money in certain salaries.
"We felt as a committee we had to refer this to the Board of Selectmen because we don't have enough information on job content," Craig said.
The Board of Selectmen raised a few of the questioned salaries in the budget, but had difficulties with some amounts they felt were too high.
The town clerk asked for a raise of 31.8 percent because of changes in the job position. Much of the processing has been changed and more work is computerized.
Selectwomen Carol Francesconi believed the amount asked was too high.
"My own personal opinion is … I don't think 31.8 percent is at all reasonable when we are giving everyone else 2.5 percent," Francesconi said. "I just don't think we can afford a 31.8 percent raise on town clerk."
Francesconi said she would not like to raise it any more than 5 percent.
Advisory Board members said they sat down with the town clerk to discuss why a raise was necessary. Craig said he did not see any additional work added onto the job description.
"[The town clerk] talked about added scope and responsibility, and I was under the opinion that the matter of achieving her job had changed instead of being done manually it's done by computer now," he said. "In my opinion, she talked about change in how the job was performed, but not additional work responsibilities."
Although the town clerk works the same amount of hours, the Advisory Board wondered if some of the duties were conducted outside of work hours. However, they said the town clerk did not mention this in their interview
The Selectmen agreed to raise the salary $1,000, which is a 6.3 percent increase.
The Advisory Board also had inquires about the treasurer and tax collector position. The person who works as both the treasurer and collector asked for a 56.4 increase.
The board felt this was too much for the position and decided to raise the salary 10.9 percent instead.
Although the budget has not yet been finalized or approved by the selectmen, Craig feels as though the town will be in good financial standing and will not have to borrow from free cash to offset the levy limit.
The Board of Selectmen will approve the budget this Tuesday.