Top 10 of 2017: #2 – Stewart’s Plan for a 23% Increase in Mayoral Salary

Many important stories have been covered by the New Britain Progressive in 2017. It may be difficult to name only a few articles as the top stories of the year, but there are a few the New Britain Progressive would like to share as our Top Ten.  Other Top Ten stories can be found at “Top Ten Stories of 2017.”

In 2017, Republican Mayor Erin Stewart openly advocated for a proposal introduced in the then-Republican-dominated City Council to increase the mayoral salary by 23% (“23% Increase in Mayor’s Salary Proposed“). The New Britain Progressive broke the news about this important story. The proposal would have brought the Mayor’s salary up to $108,016. That plan met with widespread public opposition. After Stewart made an attempt to advocate for the proposal, it was apparently set aside in the face of the public backlash.

This proposed 23% mayoral pay increase re-emerged in public debate later in the year, this time as allies of Stewart criticized pay increases in the school system after the schools’ budget chief criticized the lack of support for education in Stewart’s budgeting (“Proposed 23% Mayoral Pay Increase Re-Emerges As Issue in Debate on School System Salaries“). The denial of the 23% pay increase to the Mayor was held up as a reason to also oppose the school system salary increases.

Critics of Stewart during 2017 had little to do to embellish on her 23% mayoral pay increase plan, allowing the fact of the proposal and Stewart’s support for it speak for itself. Likewise, the reason why this story rates, now, as the #2 story on the New Britain Progressive’s Top 10 of 2017 speaks for itself.

23% Increase in Mayor’s Salary Proposed

March 24, 2017

The Republican-dominated City Council is considering a proposal that would increase the salary of the city’s mayor by 23%, up to $108,016.

Currently Republican Mayor Erin Stewart’s salary is $87,634, an amount that is more than twice the 2015 New Britain median household income of $40,457. The proposed mayoral salary of $108,016 would be 267% of what the average New Britain family lives on.

The proposed salary increase plan would also increase the salary of the city Tax Collector position, currently held by Republican Cheryl Blogoslawski, by 11%, from $70,502 to $78,557, and it would increase the pay of the Town and City Clerk position, currently held by Republican Mark Bernacki, by 15%, from $68,043 to $78,557.

The move is part of an ordinance change offered by Republican Alderman Lou Salvio. The proposal is up for consideration in the Council Committee on Administration, Finance and Law on April 5th. A hearing on it will be held at 7:00pm on that day.

The proposed ordinance would remove current city ordinances, that calls for the City Council to consider proposed salary increases for elected officials in an election year. Instead, elected official salaries would be fixed to the fourth step in the salary of the city’s Finance Director, set in ordinance, currently at $98,196.

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

August 31, 2017

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.