Dublin selectmen debate next steps for employee wage increase

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 5:55PM

A salary disagreement between Dublin’s selectmen and budget committee in this year’s proposed budget could put the former group in a quandary post-Town Meeting.

The budget committee has chosen to not include an increase of two hours per week for the assistant to the town administrator position in the proposed budget, as the increase in hours would add $11,037 to the budget – $9,720 coming in the form of health insurance as the position would become full-time. 

Town Administrator Sherry Miller said Wednesday morning that the employee has been working 30 hours per week since Jan. 1 and is currently receiving benefits.

“It kind of binds our hands in dealing with compensation issues if we can be second-guessed after the fact,” said Selectman Dale Gabel, during Monday’s select board meeting. “I don’t understand how the dichotomy is overcome.”

Gabel broached the issue to his fellow selectmen Monday, worried that something similar could happen in next year’s budget cycle as well because the board recently gave a highway employee an 80-cent “adjustment to compensation” raise. 

“What’s to stop the budget committee from doing what they did this year and not agree [to the increase]?” asked Gabel. “If we say we can offer something but it can be rescinded, it makes things challenging.”

In Dublin, it is the budget committee that sets the proposed operating budget for the town warrant.

Board chair Walter Snitko said it is the responsibility of the selectmen to act on behalf of the town. Given that municipalities operate on a bottom line budget – meaning limits set on individual line items do not have to be followed – there is flexibility in moving money from one line to another as long as the town does not go over the bottom line. 

“The optics aren’t great, but it may be necessary,” said Gabel. 

The additional money for the position could still be added to the budget at Town Meeting if a motion is made and passed. If the money is not added, the board will have to decide whether to pull the money from another line item to cover the change. 

“It’s hard to make a blanket ‘this is what’s we’ll do’ statement,” said Selectman Sturdy Thomas. “I’d have to hear why the town voted it down.”

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