Selectmen vote Brennan a raise with Hoffstatter dissenting

Members of the Board of Selectmen voted last Monday to give First Selectman Bill Brennan a 2.5% pay increase, effective Dec. 1. Sarah Taffel, Wilton's director of human resources, labor relations and administrative services, said Mr. Brennan's raise is the same as that of the town's other non-union employees. His salary will now be $129,500, Ms. Taffel said.

The selectmen met in an executive session to review Mr. Brennan's compensation, and he excused himself from the meeting. Three out of four selectmen voted for Mr. Brennan's increase, with Selectman Ted Hoffsttatter voting no.

"First, I would like to say that Bill Brennan works very hard for Wilton and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Mr. Hoffstatter said after the meeting. "My vote against a pay increase for the first selectman is in no way a reflection on him whatsoever. Mr. Brennan is not just a fellow board member but a friend, who has served our town well."

However, Mr. Hoffstatter said, "My feeling is that coming into a tough budget year where we have four union contracts up for negotiation, and an obligation to our taxpayers to put forth a fiscally conservative budget that maintains the services we expect, that with a pay freeze at the top, we would have put ourselves in the best position to bargain for a fair solution with all of the stakeholders in mind."

Second Selectman Hal Clark, who voted in favor of Mr. Brennan's raise, said it aligns similarly — or below — the salaries of other first selectmen and top executives in neighboring towns. "The Board of Selectmen reviewed the total compensation packages received by the roles of CEOs, CAOs, and COOs of all the neighboring communities, because Wilton's first selectman serves all these roles," Mr. Clark said. "Those packages sometimes include town-supplied cars, pensions or contributions to 401(k) plans, none of which Wilton's first selectman receives."

Also, Mr. Clark said, "we reviewed the salaries of all town employees who report to the first selectman, some of which are higher. We reviewed the history of this position's salary increases. We reflected upon the performance of our first selectman. Based upon actual facts, three of the four selectmen granted the first selectman a percentage increase equivalent to that received by other town employees."

Ms. Taffel said Mr. Brennan took a wage freeze in 2011, along with other town employees, and then received a pay increase of 2.3% on Dec. 1, 2011. This was the same increase non-union town workers received for 2012.

"He does not receive pay increases on July 1, as do the other non-union employees," Ms. Taffel explained. "His pay increases occur on Dec. 1, which is the commencement of his term of office."

Despite his dissenting vote, Mr. Hoffstatter said, "I respect the board's decision. I am fortunate to serve with such a talented group of people. We usually come to consensus, but every now and then we agree to disagree. The reason we don't always think alike is because we think. That is a good thing. As always, we will move forward to budget season working as teammates."