Aldermen approve large pay hike for Shelton mayor

The mayor of Shelton is getting a pay raise. As expected, the Board of Aldermen approved a pay hike from $110,200 a year to $135,700, to take effect over a three-year period after this year’s November election. This represents a more than 23% raise.

The mayoral salary also is adjusted annually based on cost-of-living adjustments, but had not been changed separately from that in eight years.

The pay raise vote came at an aldermanic meeting on Wednesday night. No alderman offered a comment before the vote was taken.

The vote was 5-1 in favor, with the board’s lone Democrat, Jack Finn, in opposition. Voting in favor were Aldermen John Anglace, Lynn Farrell, Stanley Kudej, Eric McPherson and Anthony Simonetti.

Alderman John Papa was absent due to illness and Alderman Noreen McGorty was absent to a son’s out-of-state military training graduation.

Finn: ‘He gets enough’

After the meeting, Finn said he didn’t think a mayoral pay raise was needed.

“He gets enough,” Finn said. “I’m a senior citizen and living on a fixed income just like a lot of seniors living in Shelton — and this surpasses the cost-of-living increases we’re getting.”

Mayor Mark Lauretti is a Republican, as are seven of the eight aldermen. Lauretti is expected to seek re-election this fall. He was first elected in 1991.

Anglace, aldrmanic president, defended the vote by the Board of Aldermen. “Our job is to make sure the office of mayor is being paid properly,” he said after the meeting.

The annual cost-of-living increases for the mayor have been in the 2% to 2.5% range recently, and match those received by other non-union city workers in Shelton.

Consultant recommended pay hike

The pay raise was recommended by an outside human resources consultant, David Dunn, based primarily on the salaries of other mayors and first selectmen of comparable municipalities, and the earnings of other administrators in Shelton city government and the Shelton school system.

Another factor was that a mayor is essentially on call 24/7 and doesn’t receive overtime pay for night and evening hours.

Lauretti’s actual city earnings for calendar year 2013 were $118,340, which includes all taxable income and taxable benefits.

Every six years from now on

An ordinance determines the process for changing the mayoral salary in Shelton. The Board of Aldermen’s vote came after a public hearing on the issue last week.

The process involves hiring a consultant to do a study on how much the Shelton mayor is being paid and to make recommendations. The mayor’s salary then is determined by the aldermen.

In its vote Wednesday, the aldermen also changed how frequently the mayoral salary could be adjusted in the future.

Instead of looking at the mayor’s pay every eight years, the aldermen will now do so every six years. This change was recommended by Dunn.

Anglace: Pay hike part of ‘a process’

Anglace said it’s important to remember the approved pay hike isn’t necessarily for Lauretti, but will be for whoever holds the office after the municipal election this fall.

“We’re talking about the salary for the position of mayor — and there’s a difference,” Anglace said.

He emphasized the mayoral salary adjustment is part of “a process” that is determined by ordinance, which he thinks has served the city well since being enacted about 16 years ago.

He said a bipartisan group of aldermen — the board consisted of four Republicans and four Democrats at the time, according to Anglace — approved the original ordinance as a way to “take it out of politics.”

Rating a mayor’s performance

Anglace said the aldermen hire consultants from out of town, with no political connections to Shelton, to complete the mayoral pay study.

Dunn lives in Stratford and has held positions with the city of Bridgeport through the years, which is controlled by Democrats. He currently is personnel director in Bridgeport.

Anglace said when it comes to whether a mayor is doing a good job or not, that decision is ultimately made by Shelton voters on Election Day every two years. “The people rate the mayor’s performance,” he said.