Town Council members unanimously approved salary increases for elected positions on Monday night, including first selectman, town clerk, tax collector and treasurer. The raises will not kick in until the January after the next municipal election.
First Selectman Steve Vavrek had turned down a raise two years ago, and the council approved a 2% raise for the position's $87,251 salary on Monday.
The position of treasurer received a 2 percent raise over the $10,384 salary, and four percent raises were approved for the town clerk and tax collector — both positions pay $55,623 a year.
The council can only approve raises for elected positions once every two years.
"These are for the position, not the person," Town Councilman J.P. Sredzinski said of the raises. "It's not a reflection on the person holding the office. In my opinion, all of these positions are underpaid."
Sredzinski said he believes the town should raise the salaries in "bites" in hopes they will become more competitive to attract future candidates.
'I Must Convey My Disappointment'
Prior to the council's vote, Town Clerk Marsha Beno told reporters that in the past six years she has gotten only one raise, which was 2%.
"Now our benefits take away half of the increase we've gotten over the past 10 years," Beno said of rising employee contributions for health insurance.
In comparison to her 2% increase, she said the Town Hall Clerical Union received a 12.75% increase over the past six years, and the Town Hall Supervisors Union received 8% over the past 5 years.
Beno said the salaries for both the town clerk and tax collector are the lowest department head salaries at town hall and among the lowest when compared to their counterparts in other towns.
The town clerk salary in Norwalk is $86,000, Stamford $109,249 and New Milford $66,854, according to Beno.
Towns will similar populations to Monroe include:
- Avon, population 18,098, salary $76,855
- Waterford, population 19,517, salary $76,999
- Rocky Hill, population 19,709, salary $87,840
- Clinton, population 13,360, salary $62,875
In a statement she asked Town Council Chairwoman Enid Lipeles to read into the record, Beno pointed out that the Registrar of Voters received "a well deserved double digit increase" two years ago, so the council could vote for higher increases for tax collector and town clerk.
"I must convey my disappointment," she wrote. "... I hope you might consider a higher increase."
When talking to reporters, Beno pointed out that the office of tax collector brings in the town's most revenue and the office of town clerk the second most.
"We need people who are competent and professional to run our departments," she said. "I just feel that the positions are very unappreciated."