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Non-Union Paychecks Fall Short for Wenham Employees, Pay Raise Considered

Wenham's non-union employees earn less than their counterparts in similar, nearby communities and town leaders are considering pay raises.

Wenham officials are considering pay raises for non-union employees – most of which who are making less than their counterparts in comparable communities.

One selectman, John Clemenzi, said at the board’s Tuesday night meeting that addressing appropriate pay for town employees is “a topic that is well overdue.”

Out of 25 jobs examined in the comparison, Wenham paid more than comparable communities for six of the jobs. But it fell short for 19 of the positions, including assessor, Council on Aging director, fire chief, police chief and town accountant. Wenham was compared to Carlisle, Essex, Hamilton, Ipswich, Newbury, Rowley, Topsfield, West Newbury and Weston in the survey, which was completed in February.

In some cases, a direct comparison was not possible. In a few communities, a position is part-time while other communities have it full-time.

The Finance Committee suggested to the Board of Selectmen that it consider spending up to $19,000 for no more than four positions to bring the salary in line with the same position in similar nearby communities.

“To me this is key to what this board should be doing,” Clemenzi said.

Some of the largest disparities are for the Wenham DPW director, who earns $79,248, $13,241 less than the average of the comparable communities; and the Town Clerk, who earns $41,739,  $14,638 less than the average of the comparison communities.

Wenham’s non-union employees have gone three years without a pay raise, according to Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren, whose $93,456 salary is $14,638 below comparable towns. Two town unions have received raises during the same period, Chelgren said, although one union has been asked to give back the raise for one year and negotiations are ongoing.

Selectmen Harriet Davis noted the comparison does not show the length of service or education of the people holding the positions.

When one employee leaves it can be disruptive, Clemenzi said,  citing the departure of the town’s finance director last year.

“It was traumatic and a lot of people had to step up to the plate quickly,” he said, noting the topic deserved a serious consideration and lengthy discussion.

Chelgren said Finance Committee Chairman Roger Keubel told him that as long as the Selectmen agree with the idea of raises the Finance Committee will put it in the budget and leave it up to they Board of Selectmen to decide how it is distributed.

No final decision was made and the board said it wants to continue to consider it.

Lucy Frederiksen March 25, 2011 at 01:55 PM
It looked to me like Police Captain and Police Sergeant in Wenham got paid more than those in any of the compared communities, and above the average.
Robert Gates March 25, 2011 at 02:30 PM
There are six positions in Wenham that are above the average - as it says in the story - and most by $1,000 to $3,000 annually. Police sergeant at $82,379 in Wenham is the only one that is much higher. There are three sergeant's on the police department. The average for that position is $64,406 and the next closest is $75,716 in West Newbury. Good point Lucy.
Michelle Bailey March 29, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Really, Wenham non-union employees have not had a raise in 3 years? In October 2009 at a Special Town Meeting, the voters approved using savings to give the non-union employees a raise. That was for July 1 2009-June 30, 2010. What happened, did they get a raise as approved by the tax-payers or not?
Trudy March 30, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Some non-union workers actually took a pay cut that year...the pay was reinstated at that Special Town Meeting...it was not a raise!

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