Tuesday night’s Jan. 18 meeting of the Board of Selectmen (BOS) was the third consecutive BOS meeting that explored how a new Town Administrator might benefit the day-to-day operations of the Town. In the latest meeting, however, the discussion delved more into the cost side of the equation.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice had prepared a presentation for the selectmen that focused on how the proposed new position has evolved to date, and where it might be heading in terms of salary and compensation.
First, Vanderslice briefly summarized the recent discussion about the position, which is based on:
- The BOS meeting on Jan. 4 and the special meeting on Jan 10, which laid out the rationale for why the position is needed and a working job description for it
- The Jan. 11 Board of Finance meeting, in which board members for the most part seemed conceptually in support of the position
- A lack of resident feedback about the proposed position, with the exception comments from a very small number of residents
To date, the key questions — or in some cases, reservations — about the position are mainly about compensation, not only the salary for the new position, but whether there would be any decrease in the first selectperson’s salary (currently $142,999) as a result of adding the new position.
Vanderslice has previously said she believes a reduction in the first selectperson’s salary would be warranted if a town administrator were added. In her presentation, Vanderslice reiterated the view.
“Upon the hiring of a Town Administrator, the first selectperson’s compensation should be reduced to reflect the reduced responsibilities and time commitment. Even if the first selectperson’s focus changes, the responsibilities and day-to-day commitment will have been reduced,” she said.
Vanderslice also noted that Wilton’s chief financial officer — whether for the Town or in the dual role as CFO for both the Town and the Board of Education — has historically had the highest compensation among Town employees. (Wilton’s CFO, Anne Kelly-Lenz, who recently resigned, would have had a salary for FY2023 of $201,400. The salary for her replacement is still to be determined.)
Vanderslice is estimating a town administrator’s salary would be in the range of $185,000-$205,000. That estimate is based on an analysis of nearby towns and others across the state, as outlined in several charts in Vanderslice’s presentation (posted online), which cites the compensation of first selectmen and town administrators of those towns. The data show:
- Among nearby towns, the first selectperson’s salary in Wilton is roughly equal to what’s paid in Darien, but slightly lower than in Greenwich, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Westport. Only Weston, which has a part-time first selectperson, is lower.
- Greenwich and Darien both have a first selectperson and a town administrator, whose salaries roughly range from $191,000-$217,000. Weston has a town administrator with a salary of $153,000 (but with a more lucrative pension plan.)
Second Selectmen Joshua Cole said he supported the salary range for Wilton’s proposed town administrator.
“Because of the skillset that we’re looking for, it’s naturally going to be a higher level salary,” Cole said. “I think that the range that [Vanderslice] presented is accurate for what we’re looking for and the skills that we’re requiring, especially in this area.”
Cole also agreed with Vanderslice that a reduction in the first selectperson’s pay was warranted, but was less sure about what the amount would be.
“I definitely think it has to be adjusted,” Cole said. “The question is how are we going to determine by what measure it gets adjusted?”
The board members agreed to give the matter further consideration before the next BOS meeting on Feb. 7, when they would take up the topic again.
Vanderslice encouraged members of the public to submit their comments and questions about the proposed new position and related compensation issues to the board.