Groton proposal: Raise town manager’s salary to $170,000, boost four other salaries
Groton — The Groton Town Council will vote Tuesday on a proposal to raise Town Manager John Burt’s salary to 13,000 increase — and raise the salaries of four other high-level administrators in town.
“Everybody that I’ve talked to is pretty livid. Jobs are getting cut,” said Martie Pollard, president of the Groton Municipal Employees Association/CILU 62, which represents 76 town employees. Burt recommended eliminating nine positions in town government and adding the equivalent of one, for a net loss of eight jobs in the coming fiscal year.
Pollard said she’s angry on many levels. Burt proposed cutting employee benefits and jobs, he’s been looking elsewhere for work, and the council discussed the salary increases privately. Councilors met in executive session on March 27 to discuss Burt’s evaluation, and had earlier asked him what he’d need to stay in Groton.
“They’re doing back room deals is what they’re doing,” Pollard said.
Meanwhile, town retirees represented by the union have not received a cost of living adjustment in ten years, she said.
Burt was a finalist for the city administrator job in Urbana, Ill., but recently withdrew himself from contention for the position. He also applied to at least two other jobs in the Midwest before deciding he wanted to stay in Groton.
During the March 27 executive session, Burt proposed changes to salaries and administrative positions which the council agreed to put on the agenda for a Tuesday vote. The council fully supports the changes, Town Mayor Patrice Granatosky wrote in an email when asked about the increases.
The proposed adjustments would extend Burt’s contract for one year, set his salary at 100 per month in car allowance, and provide mileage reimbursement for work-related travel outside town.
Burt took over from former Town Manager Mark Oefinger and earns an annual base salary of 148,667 at the time of his retirement.
The changes would also revise the job of Human Resources Director Robert Zagami by naming him human resources director and assistant town manager, and pay him a salary of 116,752; Assistant Planning and Development Director Deborah Jones would receive 98,616.
The employees’ current salaries were unavailable Friday because town offices were closed.
The new salaries would take effect April 9 and be paid using existing budgets and the town’s contingency fund as needed, the resolution said.
“We are committed to keeping our economic development team together as we forward the vision of smart growth for Groton,” Granatosky wrote. “Diversifying our tax base and growing the grand list wisely will allow us to provide a community with good quality of life for all ages.”
The Town has about 6,037 to pay the salary increases through the end of the current fiscal year, he said.
“Bob is going to be an outstanding Assistant Town Manager,” Burt wrote. “The intent is to have him take the lead on several pressing projects as well as to fill in for me in meetings to allow me more flexibility in my schedule.
He expects more changes to follow, he said.
“The Town Council has designated economic development as a strategic focus area. As part of that they want to make sure we pay an appropriate, competitive rate to maintain our progress in that area,” he wrote.
“I anticipate as funds allow that we will continue to look at the non-union pay scale that was adopted last July to see what other adjustments need to be made. At the same time, we also need to continue making changes that will allow the Town to afford any other adjustments.”