City Councilman Ernie Newton is on the “warpath” over a four percent pay raise the City Council approved for the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association that automatically triggers a pay bump for the mayor and non-union positions via a city ordinance.
“How do you explain that we don’t have money to take care of certain things, but we can give the mayor’s people increases?” opines Newton, even though the council approved the contract. “If we had a pot full of money that would be one thing. This is what happened under Bill Finch. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.”
The raises are two percent retroactive and two percent to start the new budget year July 1.
Newton argues the ordinance should be amended. See salary ranges of positions 2019citysalarygrid.
From Brian Lockhart CT Post:
Ganim’s and the other increases were triggered when the council in February approved a new contract for the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association. A local ordinance requires non-union positions receive the same raises as unionized supervisors.
The supervisors received a retroactive 2 percent raise. They are scheduled for another 2 percent raise in July, adding up to the 4 percent increases in Ganim’s budget, which is being reviewed by the council’s Budget Committee ahead of a May vote.
“This is the fair and equitable way to meet the standards of cost of living and have parameters in place that establish an increase for employees that don’t have a union,” said Ganim’s communications director, Rowena White.
And, technically, many on the mayor’s payroll are not earning as much as they could. The same ordinance linking their wages to the unionized supervisors also establishes salary ranges. Those ranges in March were increased to accommodate for the 2 percent retroactive pay increase, and will be adjusted again over the summer to reflect July’s 2 percent raise.
The linked pay increases were controversial when Joe Ganim returned to office after defeating Bill Finch in 2015.
In one of his final acts as mayor, Finch approved retroactive pay increases for dozens of discretionary appointees after the City Council failed to act on approving a collective bargaining agreement under the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association that also drives mayoral pay. On his final day as mayor, Nov. 30th, 2015, Finch’s paycheck packed a direct deposited $17,079 based on his authorizing a retroactive pay raise going back to July 1, 2013.
On November 18, 2015, the attorney for the supervisor’s association Ed Gavin sent a letter to then Director of Labor Relations Larry Osborne, a Finch supporter, citing Connecticut law regarding inaction by the legislative body to act on collective bargaining agreements.
“Such requests shall be considered approved if the legislative body fails to vote to approve or reject such requests within 30 days of the end of the 14 day period for submission to said body,” Gavin wrote.
The increases were subsequently processed.
When he took office Ganim lobbied the City Council to rescind the pay raise citing an inherited $20 million budget deficit. Gavin, representing the city’s Supervisors Union, ran into court to preserve the contract. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis sided with Gavin.
Newton says he wants the City Council to revisit the ordinance that links discretionary appointee salary ranges. Many of Ganim’s hires are at the low or mid end of the ranges, as Lockhart points out in his article.
Still, Newton persists “They don’t need it because they serve at the pleasure of the mayor. I wish I made $100,000. I would not need a raise.”
Ganim’s proposed spending plan for the budget year starting July 1 is currently in the hands of the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee. The first public hearing is April 18. See here.
Newton asserts he’ll push for cuts to every department as leverage to amend the ordinance.