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Council Briefed On Town Clerk Staffing, Raises, Grand List Reserve

Published: April 11, 2019 at 09:53 am

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UPDATE (April 12, 2019): This story has been updated to clarify the proposed increase in taxation as well as spending.

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The Legislative Council was briefed on several items that will have some impact — however incremental — on the 2019-20 budget proposal that was later approved and sent to referendum during a regular meeting April 3.

The council endorsed sending separate 2019-20 municipal and school district budget proposals to voters for consideration with a 1.56 percent overall tax increase, and 2.7 percent in spending. Annual referendum polling will be Tuesday, April 23, from 6 am to 8 pm, at Newtown Middle School gymnasium, 11 Queen Street.

Near the beginning of the nearly three-hour meeting, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal notified council members he had struck an agreement with Town Clerk Debbie Halstead that would increase her base salary. That increase, from $76,312 to $81,312, comes with the understanding that her office staff would be reduced by one full-time position.

Mr Rosenthal said that full-time position, which recently opened due to a staff member’s departure, would be replaced by a part-time person who would not be covered under the town’s health insurance plan and who would not be eligible for any full-time benefits.

He said the town would realize a net $17,000 savings as a result, and that Ms Halstead agreed she would shoulder the extra work to cover the balance of what a full-time staff member might have to handle.

The first selectman explained that while the Town Clerk is an elected position, and that official manages the office staff, it is the First Selectman that handles hiring and compensation parameters. Mr Rosenthal said he has come to understand that work and demands on the Town Clerk’s office staff “ebbs and flows,” which led him to believe the office could accomplish all its necessary work under the new arrangement.

While the pay raise goes into effect immediately, Town Finance Director Robert Tait said there was money in the current year budget to cover the aforementioned pay increase and any related bump in Social Security and pension contributions. “The charter says we can make that change,” Mr Tait said.

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