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.