salary salads

Here’s some interesting news about salaries, concessions, and taxes.

New Milford teachers and the Board of Ed have peacefully renegotiated teacher contracts for the 2011-2012 year.



It’s pretty frugal:

The contract will freeze teacher pay for the next year. $0 raises. 0% step increases. $0 in longevity pay. $0 extra dollars for extracurricular service. Whatever a teacher is making this year, they make next year (if they are still working at all).

Additionally, teachers will also pay a little more out of pocket (in the form of co-pay increases) for medical care.

(Oddly, not everyone is thrilled by this. Bill Wellman and Nancy LaTour of the BoE, wanting more concessions, voted against the contracts.)

Compare this with the last contracts, in the halcyon days of pre-crash 2008:


when teachers’ salaries increased, on average, 3.4%.

(And Bill Wellman thought this was “excellent.”)

Let’s say this again, slowly.

New Milford teachers have agreed to flat salaries, and increased medical costs, for the next year. Tax payers aren’t being asked for a single dime over last year.

This seems fair, given the current state of the economy. If anyone still remembers last spring, and the budget battle, many, many people criticized teachers for “squeezing” tax payers (by not granting salary concessions mid-contract).

Some people even thought the budget meetings required defibrillators:


At the same time, the Town-side employees were repeatedly praised for nobly sacrificing raises and benefits increases out of compassion for the struggling tax payers.

(Which is a tad disingenuous. Given that the NM Police contract expired in 2008, and the new contract was finally settled in arbitration this year - which I cost tax payers how much? - the salary picture, at least for the police, seems a bit more complex than certain members of the Town Council would have us believe.)




(That’s not knocking the police. Their work is hard and dangerous. That our police force has done so for 2 years under an expired contract is shameful, but it’s not the police force I’m ashamed of.)

Well. Anyway. That was spring.

What’s happening on the Town side this fall?


Huh. Looks like every non-union employee on the town side just got a 2% raise.

Retroactive to July 2010.

In the budget that was trumpeted as containing 0 salary increases.

Come again?


The Town Council, after slapping everyone involved with education silly last spring, just undercut their own argument.

Ummm … wha?

Where is money coming from?

Didn’t Roger Szendy tell us that the cupboard was bare, the well was dry, and, if money were toilet paper, there wasn’t a square to spare? (He did.)


(Which is kind of funny, when you remember things like this):


But, apparently, cupboards are not as bare as all that:

“Mayor Murphy stated the money for the non union personnel wage adjustments will be coming out of the contingency line and out of the Fringe Account.”

Say What?!

The contingency line and the Fringe Account?

Pardon me, but:

  1. Didn’t the Board of Ed get raked over the coals by Paul Szymanski for transferring money form different columns of the school budget? (Oh, yes, he did. He had a facebook page and a website and huge, honking billboards telling everyone with eyeballs just how awful, dirty, shameful, carnie-huckster that kind of transfer is!)



So, why is it ok for the town to make these kinds of transfers? What’s the difference? It was the Mayor’s idea, so it’s ok?

  1. Is a salary increase truly a “contingency” expense? (It’s not in my household.) What happens next year, when it’s budget time again, and the revenue side has not improved (as Roger Szendy keeps telling us. His message is “Be afraid. Be very afraid” about future budgets.)? Will the Town Council raid the contingency line again to keep those salaries where they are? Or will they yank that 2% (or more) back from the non-union employees?

I don’t deny that town employees deserve the increase. I don’t deny the good work done by town employees. So don’t start. That’s not the point.

The point is, there seems to be one set of standards the BoE is expected to follow, or beware the wrath of billboards. And there is another set of standards the TC is allowed to follow. Especially between budget seasons.

Because there’s no way the average tax payer is keeping their eye on this ball. I’m sure next budget season, we’ll hear the same garbage from the same cranks about how teachers are greedy, the BoE is can’t handle money, and no one will note that teachers and the BoE held the line on salaries, while the Mayor and TC basically used the vacation credit card to pay the mortgage.

It’s all perfectly legal.

But it sure ain’t fair. Not to the taxpayers, who were sold a story about financially responsible town officials and greedy educators. Not to the BoE members, who were vilified for “underhanded” processes that are, apparently, totally cool for the TC. And not to the school and town employees, who are clearly being treated as “good kid/bad kid” in a tragically dysfunctional family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Roger's letter to the editor here:

I just looked up hypocrite in the dictionary and there was Abe Lincoln I mean Bendy Szendy.