Monday, June 7 the Board of Selectmen (BOS) will hold a special meeting to discuss the compensation paid to the first selectwoman. The special meeting has been scheduled at 6:30 p.m., before the start of the BOS’s first regularly scheduled bi-weekly meeting at 7 p.m.*. Public comment is being accepted via email to Second Selectwoman Lori Bufano.
In February 2020, the BOS set the 2020-21 salary for First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice at $139,511. However, in June 2020, Vanderslice volunteered to take a $30,000 pay reduction when town officials were concerned about possible budgetary overages and rapidly rising expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and revised the budget.
Along with the special meeting agenda that has been posted to the town website, officials have posted a file listing salaries of first selectmen/women in surrounding towns for comparison. (see document, below)
Without the salary reduction, Vanderslice’s salary was third-highest in the region, behind Greenwich ($149,953) and New Canaan ($147,000). With the reduction, she earned just under $5,000 more than the lowest-paid full-time Chief Town Officer, Westport’s Jim Marpe at $104,925.
Vanderslice’s salary history dates back to Dec. 2015, when the BOS voted for a 2.5% increase in the salary for Wilton’s top official, from $136,108 to its current level.
It was customary for the BOS to review what the town paid to its first selectman at the first meeting in December and award an increase. Vanderslice, who had started her first term only days before, had actually appealed to the BOS members not to raise the salary — a move at the time she said aligned with the fiscally conservative approach she had championed during her first campaign for the office in the months immediately preceding.
More recently, in response to an email from GOOD Morning Wilton, she added, “I recommended against an increase as any increase wouldn’t be merit driven and thus in my eyes unearned.”
Despite her appeal, the BOS members followed through on their intention and bumped up the salary. Vanderslice gifted the raise amount — $3,403 — back to the town, and did the same thing in 2016 and 2017.
The BOS did not hold another salary review in 2016. In 2017, Vanderslice asked the BOS to rescind the raise as even though she was returning the $3,403, both she and the town were paying payroll taxes on the raise of just under $600 each. The Board voted to reduce the compensation again to $136,108 as of Dec. 1, 2017.
The matter wasn’t considered again until Feb. 18, 2020, when the other BOS members held a salary review. They voted to increase the first selectwoman’s salary by 2.5% to $139,511 — the same amount authorized a little over four years previously — effective March 1, 2020. That salary remained in place for three months until Vanderslice voluntarily took a $30,000 reduction, effective July 1, 2020, as part of the revised post-pandemic FY2020 budget.
*On Monday evening, there is a public hearing scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., preceding the regular meeting, which will start at 7:15 p.m. Wilton selectmen have scheduled a public hearing to hear proposals for inclusion in the 2021 CT Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program. There are 14 proposal applications that will be considered. Members of the public can submit comments via email to Second Selectwoman Lori Bufano and include “public comment” in the subject line. The email will be read and reviewed during public comment. The public hearing is also accessible via Zoom.