Breaking down comptroller’s raise

By TAYLOR

MURCHISON-

GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

During the Tuesday, June 12, meeting of the City Council, there was discussion regarding an employment agreement and salary increase for the city comptroller, Diane Waldron.

City resident Andrew Howe addressed the agenda item regarding “the city enter into a written employment agreement with the comptroller retroactive to June 19, 2017, for a four year term…” and “To increase the salary of the Assistant to the Comptroller from non-bargaining salary level (by 9.86%) effective July 1.”.

Howe asked if there “are any additional benefits, what the contract has been signed for, what raise was hit,” and if there were increases for other department heads.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said the motion “gives (Waldron) a raise effective July 1, 2018, to an adjusted annualized salary of $164,822 for the duration of the agreement. It also has an item for compensatory time that she’s able to earn for extra hours worked.” The contract also addresses medical, retiree health, short term disability—”none of that has changed,” said Zoppo-Sassu in the meeting.

How does Waldron’s salary compare to other communities?

New Britain, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, and Farmington are towns of comparable size to Bristol.

The finance director in New Britain earns $130,600 annually, and the deputy finance director earns $127,367. In Meriden, the finance director will earn $136,174 for fiscal year 18/19. The finance director in Middletown earns $147,791, and the two assistant finance directors earn $131,754 each. In Milford, the finance director earns $138,806 annually. In Farmington, the finance director will earn $145,656 annually.

Waldron, at $164,822 makes 10% more than the finance director of Middletown.

In an interview subsequent to the council meeting, Councilor Dave Preleski and Mayor Zoppo-Sassu addressed the contract changes for Waldron.

The mayor said Waldron will not receive retroactive pay, but rather, her contract is retroactive. This means that the four year contract Waldron agreed to officially begins as of her date of hire: June 19, 2017.

Her adjusted salary, now at $164,822, is approximately $30,000 more than her pay when hired, but Zoppo-Sassu said she believes it is in line with the numbers of tasks that fall under Waldron’s responsibility.

“When people say comptroller, they tend to think it’s like some glorified accounting position, and it’s so much more than that,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “It’s pensions, retirement, bond ratings, dealing with our ratings agencies, it’s the whole package. If you look on the comptroller’s website, on the city side, you’ll see there’s dozens of financial reporting and all of this coordination that has to happen. It just wasn’t anything that I was willing to go without, that key position.”

“I was on the hiring committee last term when we hired her, the previous administration,” said Preleski, “and we had three or four finalists… and, we only interviewed her because, we thought, there was such a gap between her abilities and the other people out there.”

“The mayor and I, we both felt very strongly that that position is just too important, and from day one she brought something… to the table that was exceptional… [I]n the first month she was here, she saved us $180,000 by just changing when we made a contribution to our pensions… [E]verything she’s done has been, in my view, flawless.”

Also included in the June 12 council meeting agenda was a $6,000 raise for Jodi McGrane, assistant to the comptroller. Both of these changes went into effect as on Sunday, July 1, 2018.