Public hearing on increasing Shelton mayor's pay is scheduled

UPDATE: The hearing has been postponed due to snow and will be rescheduled.

A public hearing on a proposal to increase the mayor’s salary in Shelton after the next election will take place Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium.

Residents may share their views on the proposal with the Board of Aldermen, which is charged with setting the mayoral salary by the ordinance process.

Based on a report by a management consultant hired by the Board of Aldermen, the mayoral salary would increase from the current $110,200 to $135,700 over a three-year period, separate from annual cost-of-living increases that usually are in the 2%-2.5% per year range.

Consultant: Job has many responsibilities

In recommending the raise, consultant David Dunn pointed to a mayor’s responsibility over an entire community; the salaries of other mayors, first selectmen and top municipal administrators in comparable communities around the state; and what Shelton school officials and other city officials earn.

"Some people may think it is a lot of money at this point in time, but I would say if you were giving the position the respect it deserves, in my estimation you would need to pay him more money,” Dunn said.

A mayoral salary study takes place every eight years, but that schedule may be changed to every six years. The salary also is adjusted every year based on cost-of-living calculations, which is similar to what happens with other city employees who aren’t covered by union contracts.

In addition to a salary, a mayor receives an additional payment of 8% of his salary toward a 401(k) retirement plan, the use of a city vehicle, and life and dismemberment insurance, plus many of the same benefits as other government employees — such as medical and dental insurance coverage.

Lauretti’s view

If approved, the salary increase wouldn’t take effect until after the mayoral election in November. A state law forbids passing and enacting salary increases for municipal elected officials in the same term.

Mayor Mark Lauretti, who is now in his 12th term and is expected to seek re-election this fall, said it is up to others to determine what the position should be paid.

But he said when he first started the job in the early 1990s and made considerably less, “I think I deserved more.”

And Lauretti said he thinks he’s done a good job overseeing the city, with its low tax rate, large commercial tax base, and plentiful open space.

He also questioned, in a general sense, why mayors make so much less than school superintendents. “The seniors, and the people who work every day, are just as valuable as the kids,” he said.