Proposed 23% Mayoral Pay Increase Re-Emerges As Issue in Debate on School System Salaries

The proposal promoted by Republican Mayor Erin Stewart to increase the mayor’s salary by 23% was thrust again into attention by the recent controversy among city Republicans about the salary levels of three school system staff members.

In a recent article and editorial in the New Britain City Journal, Republican elected officials allied with Stewart and Stewart’s close ally, the City Journalcriticized the decision of the Republican-led Board of Education to approve pay increases for the school system Chief Financial Officer and two other administrative staff.

In its August 3, 2017 editorial, the City Journal argued against pay increases for the three school system staff members, saying, “Residents were unhappy to see the Mayor’s position (who makes less than these folks) seek a raise recently. Therefore, it never happened,” a reference to the proposal that would have increased the salary of the city’s mayor by 23%, up to $108,016. The New Britain Progressive broke the news of the proposed 23% mayoral pay increase on March 24, 2017.

But, on April 6, 2017, Robin Vinci, editor of the City Journal, had argued, in editor’s comments, in support of the mayoral pay increase. Advocating that, “as a person in business, the position definitely has to go up in salary. If the minimum wage goes up to $10 that means the person in charge of you has to go up to $15. The person in charge of them should be getting $20 an hour.”

She went on to say that, “In the City of New Britain, it does not work that way. There are 548 people employed by the City that makes more than the Mayor. She is not even close and it makes no sense.”

The source of this “548 people” information in Vinci’s comments were reported by New Britain Herald, on March 30, 2017, to be from City Hall, presently controlled by Stewart. “According to documents provided by the city, 548 city employees make a higher annual salary then Stewart. The top wage earner is Schools Superintendent Nancy Sarra, who makes $167,500.”

In addition to Vinci’s editor’s comment in support on the mayoral pay increase proposal, in the same edition, the City Journal used approximately half of its front page, in lieu of an article, to publish a list of school system and city paid position titles and salaries. The list was headlined, “Top 581 Paid Positions in the City of New Britain.”

Many of the positions cited, including the schools Superintendent, are not supervised by the mayor, being under the Board of Education, instead.

In the face of significant public opposition, the proposed 23% mayoral salary increase is apparently not, at present, moving toward approval.