Council passes raises for non-union staff

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BURRILLVILLE – The Town Council approved pay increases for Burrillville’s non-union municipal staff at their final meeting last month, a move Town Manager Michael Wood said was needed to keep Burrillville’s pay scale competitive with other communities across the state.

“The new wage schedule will be used to recruit and hire new employees resulting from position vacancies created after January 1,” Wood explained in a memo.

The changes amount to a $1,200 annual increase for most positions. For jobs including police chief, finance director and director of public works, that means pay will increase from $86,050 in 2018 to $87,250 in 2019. For the building official, library director and director of recreation, pay will go from $64,550 to $65,750.

Wood kept positions in the classification plan that are currently vacant, and added some jobs that the town may want to create in the future, including a public works superintendent, a town engineer, a management information systems director, an information systems analyst and a human resources manager.

“If the council decides to reorganize or add administrative positions in the future, these positions and competitive wages will be already established,” he noted.

Not included were the two temporary substance abuse positions created last year. The jobs are currently held by Monica Blanchette and Michelle Harter, and fall under the purview of the Burrillville Police Department. They are set to expire on December 31, 2019.

“If the Council decides to make these positions permanent, we should re-evaluate the position descriptions and related wages to better reflect where we want these programs to go,” said Wood.

For existing employees impacted by the changes, wage modifications will be implemented when each employee’s employment contract is renewed.

“I will try to implement wage adjustments over a multi-year period, but that won’t always be the case,” said Wood.

The initiative to increase municipal salaries began last year, and much of the new pay scale was devised by members of the town’s personnel board. Wood noted that the salaries hadn’t been reviewed for more than 10 years.

“We’ve had other positions we’ve tried to hire and we haven’t gotten the type of people we might want,” said Wood. “We need to update this and get competitive.”

The plan puts town employees roughly in line with state averages. An analysis put together by the personnel board notes that public works directors across the state are paid, on average, $86,397. Burrillville still lags behind in payment for the police chief and finance director, however, which average at $94,894 and $99,046 respectively.

Current employees may elect to retain their current salary, benefits and employment protection. Those who participate in the new plan will be required to enter into an employment agreement with the town for a period of up to five years, and will no longer be eligible for longevity pay or compensatory time.

“We’re probably missing out on some very good candidates,” said Town Councilor Stephen Rawson of the proposal. “We need to update that to stay competitive.”

The changes, which were approved unanimously, will take effect January 1.