Wilton Board of Selectmen to Hold Special Meeting to Discuss First Selectwoman’s Salary

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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.

Salary History

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.

 

Click to access surrounding_fs_salaries.pdf

 

 

*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.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Lynne has done an exemplary job leading our town in the past 15 months and has provided us with the level of professional, visionary and respectful leadership we desperately needed during the Pandemic. As we now move into the recovery phase we will need her guidance more than ever. We are fortunate to have her as First Selectwoman and the town of Wilton should step up and compensate her on par with the most competitive towns in our area.

  2. Salary increases for any town employees should be limited to the lesser of COLA or Social Security increases…exemplary service (that reduces operating expenses) can be rewarded with a one off bonus capped at 2-3% of base salary.

    • I don’t disagree but believe her salary should be returned to what is was before the Pandemic and increased from there.

    • With regard to this town employee in particular, is that COLA/SS increase based on the salary set for a position that’s been the same since Dec. 2015?

  3. David King’s Comment can’t be topped. My husband and I aren’t in Wilton any longer, but we still regard it as our hometown. Don’t know that we’re eligible to comment, but we read GMW regularly.

  4. I have never seen a public official work harder or more effectively on behalf of the people she or he represents. Even before the pandemic, Lynne Vanderslice’s excellence was hard to miss. Since then, Wilton residents regardless of political differences agree that Vanderslice is a force of nature we are lucky to have on our side.

  5. No doubt she has earned a sizable increase. It should be awarded even if she won’t accept it so at least she knows she is appreciated. A thankless job under the best of circumstances, absolutely brutal with COVID. Here’s hoping she runs again.

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