ST. ALBANS TOWN – Speaking before a rare full house, the St. Albans Town selectboard agreed Monday night to allow the town’s administration – namely town manager Carrie Johnson – to update the town’s salary schedule, making it more competitive with other municipalities.

During Monday night’s meeting, the board voted 4-1 to uphold a motion to “authorize the town manager to adjust the [Dept. of Public Works] pay scales, per employee, at her discretion, with the end goal of retaining and attracting qualified candidates.”

Only selectboard chair Bill Nihan voted against the proposal, stating that he felt the town hadn’t “done our homework we should do,” a statement contested by other members of the selectboard.

While selectboard-approved minutes from that Jan. 14 budget meeting note that the board had agreed to leave the proposed budget for public works salaries “as presented – no changes,” the conversation had apparently been left unresolved as of the conclusion of that meeting, when the board segued immediately into reviewing its Town Meeting Day warning rather than hold a vote or note a consensus decision.

The Messenger had reported this, erroneously, as an approval to raise the pay scale per Johnson’s recommendations, as the board had left the budget as presented.

During that meeting, a quorum of Nihan, selectperson Al Voegele and selectboard vice chair Bruce Cheeseman had replied “no” to the proposed raise in the pay schedule, with no alternative proposed. Only Cheeseman opted to explain his dissent during that meeting.

“I’d like to say one thing,” selectperson Brendan Deso said last night. “The town manager and director of public works identified a problem in our pay scale, and they did make a recommendation for raises for certain employees who’ve been with us long enough who’ve been underpaid, and we rejected that recommendation.”

“Your facts are wrong,” Nihan countered. “It was a macro number, a total number.”

Controversial remarks Cheeseman made during that Jan. 14 meeting had spurred further reaction from residents in the town that culminated in a rare high-turnout selectboard meeting last night attended by, among others, staff of the town’s public works department.

 

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Town debates donations, employee pay: Members argue against salary budget