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Oct 8, 2014 11:59 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Supervisor Seeks To Organize Non-Union Salaries

Oct 8, 2014 11:59 AM

In her 2015 budget proposal, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and town personnel managers are making a first attempt at categorizing and standardizing salary levels for the town’s non-union employees.

Civil Service employees’ salaries are guided by a regimented schedule of base salaries, cost-of-living raises and length-of-service increases laid out in the union contracts. But the town’s 100-plus non-union employees have had no contracts and no such compensation guidelines, until this year.

“In my time here, I’ve been frustrated every year that there are no guidelines for non-union positions,” Ms. Throne-Holst said this week. “We get asked by department heads to give someone a raise, but not someone else. So, to lend some predictability and equality, I asked that we create a similar structure.”

The “salary matrix,” as Ms. Throne-Holst has taken to calling it, that was developed for this year’s budget creates starting salaries for each position, based on traditional town compensation levels for the position, comparable salaries in other municipalities and expertise considerations, and lays out a schedule of increases for length of service and other factors specific to each position.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that the new approach, which she hopes the Town Board will adopt as a permanent policy, resulted in salary increases for some employees, primarily administrative staff whose salary increases had not kept up with the accepted standard. She added that she thinks the new regimen will also help the town codify what it expects from employees.

“You can’t come and say, ‘I want to give so-and-so a raise because I think they are doing a really good job’—the expectation is that they would be doing a really good job or they wouldn’t have that job,” the supervisor said. “So there have to be some reasonable expectations for the employees here as well.”

After they got a first glance at the salary proposals, Ms. Throne-Holst found a mix of support and raised eyebrows from her colleagues.

“I do appreciate the approach of trying to achieve parity so that equal work gets equal pay across the board,” Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said. “I think there were some real disparities over the years because of the way staffing was handled at the administrative level. I think that effort is really good for morale and from a sense of fairness in labor standards.”

Councilwoman Christine Scalera said she was still looking closely at the proposed salary schedule and individual raises, but that questions remain about how the supervisor’s program was arrived at.

In the 2015 tentative budget, the town’s 99 non-union employees, including Town Board members and other elected officials, generally received 2-percent cost-of-living increases, with a few outliers, primarily at the upper echelons of Town Hall.

Ms. Throne-Holst’s deputy chief of staff, Jennifer Garvey, would receive a $15,000 salary hike over the 2014 budget, to $78,832, though she was granted the bulk of that increase mid-year by the Town Board, who acknowledged the hike as justifiable compensation for Ms. Garvey’s workload.

Town Comptroller Len Marchese will get a $10,000 raise in base salary, to $137,500, an approximately 8-percent hike. Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato would get an $8,000 raise, about 6.5 percent, to $130,050, if the tentative budget is adopted.

Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone will get a $10,000 increase, from $15,000 to $25,000, though the position’s salary is still $5,000 less than it was in 2012. Mr. Zappone, a retired school administrator, receives a state pension and is therefore limited in how much he may be paid, meaning he has never taken the traditional full-time salary that the deputy supervisor drew in previous administrations.

“Everyone who got a raise got one because it is commensurate with where they should be to be competitive with other municipalities, and our ability to attract the talent and expertise that we need to keep the town as strong as it has become,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

A few changes in the reporting of employee compensation in the tentative budget have raised eyebrows as well.

The 2015 budget is the first to not list the total benefits compensation received by each employee, most of which exceed $30,000 annually. Instead, only an employee’s base salary is listed, with benefits accredited in a separate chapter of the budget.

Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville, who oversees all personnel, said that the change was made to protect the privacy of some employees. “We had an issue this past year in which the question of whether or not making public the specific benefits that an individual employee has could lead to an invasion of their privacy,” he said. “There are aspects of their lives that could be ascertained from knowing what their specific benefit package is.”

In 2015, the town would pay out more than $20 million for benefits for its current employees, an average of nearly $40,000 annually for the town’s 535 union and non-union employees.

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Benefits compensation information of taxpayer funded public workers is Taxpayer property and belongs to us . There is no right to privacy.
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