Administrator position sparks hot debate

  • Select Board chair Walter Snitko discusses warrant articles during Dublin’s Pre-Town Meeting.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, March 07, 2018 6:13PM

Town employee salary changes dominated discussion at Dublin’s pre-Town Meeting on Tuesday.

The selectmen and the budget committee disagree on this year’s proposed budget because the selectmen feel $11,037 should be included in the $1.9 million proposed budget to make the assistant to the town administrator position full-time.

“The biggest slug is in health insurance,” said Selectman Dale Gabel. “[If the money is added to the budget] it would still be 1.1-percent below last year’s budget.”

The budget committee’s proposed budget currently has the position working 28 hours per week, but the selectmen want enough funds to increase the position by two hours. Because the position would convert to full-time the town would have to pay health insurance, a cost of $9,720.

“We talked about this several times, and every time we determined it wasn’t required,” said Budget Committee chair Charlie Champagne. “We didn’t hear an argument that made sense.”

Gabel said at the meeting that there were three main reasons to increase the position: the requirements of the job are increasing, the complexity of the job is changing, and most towns in the area of similar size have a full-time assistant or some combination of part-timers and/or contracted work to perform the duties required. 

“Currently, the town administrator has to do routine work, which means she can’t do more complex tasks,” said Gabel, who said the routine duties would be shifted to the assistant. 

The selectmen have already voted to change the position to 30 hours per week – the change was made effective Jan. 1 – which could lead to a tough decision should the money not be added during Town Meeting. 

“The board believes in the will of Town Meeting,” said Selectman Sturdy Thomas. “If the town says this is not something they want, who said it would continue?”

Selectmen and the budget committee both do not support two petition articles that if passed would give 7.8-percent raises to the town clerk/tax collector and her deputy.

Both positions are already receiving a 2.2-percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) with the rest of town employees in the proposed budget, but Town Clerk/Tax Collector Jeannine Dunne said more needed to be done to make the pay of both positions more equitable. 

Dunne said she looked at the town’s 2012 salary study that was completed in 2012 to determine what the increased salary of the two positions should be. 

“We are asking for less than the mid-point range,” said Dunne. 

Gabel said he felt both Dunne and deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector Neil Sandford are excellent employees but he didn’t know if the two employees were being treated inequitably. 

Champagne said the committee entertains all potential salary increases and felt that the 2.2-percent COLA was adequate. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.