Town Councilors recently approved increases to the maximum pay scales of various non-union Town employee positions, but denied several regulatory changes covering the same group.
On Aug. 13, Councilors voted in favor of increasing the maximum pay ranges for the non-union pay plan by various percentages. Town officials believe the increases will keep the positions’ maximum pay in line with similar jobs in other municipalities.
Increases range from 2.7 percent to 9.4 percent depending on the pay grade. Some grades did not undergo a change to their maximums.
Using the 9.4 percent increase as an example, which covers positions in the N3 grade — social worker, senior services social worker, and youth and family counselor — the new maximum pay range is $72,000. The maximum was previously set at $65,793.
Increases to the maximum do not guarantee pay raises for the employees.
Councilor Tom Ruocco, who serves as the chairman of the Personnel Committee, introduced the motion.
“Some are changing, some are not,” Ruocco explained. “Some are modestly changing, some are going up by quite a bit.”
The Council voted 4-4 in 2018 on the proposed pay plan changes. Due to the tie vote, no alterations were made. Since then, Town officials were tasked by the Council to conduct a market survey to see how Cheshire employees fared versus positions in similar municipalities.
Assistant Town Manager and Human Resources Director Louis Zullo said the changes would “set a base” for the positions’ maximums. Starting next year, changes would be consistent with the Consumer Price Index.
“We’ll just come back and give you the CPI for the northeast, or New England, or Metro Urban — whatever CPI we decide to use going forward,” Zullo said.
Councilor Sylvia Nichols asked if the Town has had trouble hiring people because of the existing salary structure. According to Zullo, that has been the case in the past.
“We were fortunate in the recruitment of the Recreation Director (John Gawlak),” reflected Zullo. “He was retiring and our ability of what we were going to pay fit his match. If we had gone in a different (direction), it probably would have cost us more.”
The Council also voted in favor of regulation changes concerning the medical and life insurance policies offered to non-union employees. The language in the regulation was changed due to the Town’s switch from Anthem to Cigna as its health insurance provider.
Councilors also supported changes to the basis of evaluation that supervisors follow when evaluating their employees.
The Council did not support proposals to increase the total amount of sick time from 1,050 hours to 1,155 hours, to raise the membership enrollment reimbursement and educational assistance from $250 to $300 and from $2,400 to $3,00 respectively, or to have the Town pay 25 percent of the individual annual premium for the offered long-term disability plan.
Ruocco said that the Town’s sick leave policy offered extensive hours was due to the Town not offering a disability plan.
“One of the reasons we had a generous sick leave policy was because there was no disability plan,” he said. “… With a long-term disability plan (implemented), I just don’t really see the need for (additional sick time).”
Council Chairman Rob Oris did not support some of the changes due to the fact that the increase in benefits could create a precedent for upcoming union negotiations.
“We’re going to be entering into — this fall and winter — union negotiations,” he said. “It would seem to me that it would be natural for them to say, ‘You’re giving it to the non-union employees.’”