Letter: Revoke first selectman’s unnecessary pay raise

To the Editors:

I had to double-check the date on the front page of last week's paper — as I thought it was the April Fool's issue — after reading about the Board of Selectmen voluntarily, and unanimously, voting to increase newly-elected First Selectman Vanderslice’s salary — after she specifically asked them not to. If this is true, perhaps the board can explain to the taxpayers in town the reasoning behind what they did. Because as one of those taxpayers, I'm pretty angry about this egregious slight of hand.

Unless I'm mistaken, Ms. Vanderslice hasn’t been on the job for more than a month or so. So, a merit raise would seem very unlikely at this point (I'm sure she'll do a great job moving forward). She also, as promised, asked the board to not raise her salary as a measure of goodwill and fiscal conservation. Yet, after a closed-door session, this magically changed. What are we missing here?

Now, the 2.5% raise amounts to less than $4,000/yr. for the first selectman. Not a huge amount for some people, but I bet there are plenty of taxpayers in town who'd love a surprise $4,000 refund this year (my family sure would). Does the board think my boss would give me a raise if I told him I didn't want one? No. Is the board now telling our hard-working police and fire departments and teachers to now sit back and ask for no raises next year, knowing that, at the very least, a 2.5% increase is coming as a pleasant surprise? I doubt it. I'd be surprised if most town employees weren't upset by what just happened.

So why did they do it? Is it political back-scratching? Were the campaign promises made with a wink and a chuckle? The taxpayers deserve an answer — now. It’s these types of backroom shenanigans that go on in corporate boardrooms and government offices around the country that lead to people becoming more disillusioned by the day. Maybe the board figured the consistently-low voter turnout means the people in town don't really care what's done with our money. I can assure them that’s not the case.

I expect, and request, the Board of Selectmen to honor the first selectman’s original request by voting to revoke this unnecessary pay raise at their next meeting — along with an explanation and an apology. Last week’s meeting raised a couple of red flags that no one should be comfortable with.
Devin Comiskey
122 Wolfpit Road, Dec. 14