The Recorder – Wage increases top Orange Annual Municipal Meeting term

ORANGE — Voters at Tuesday’s annual municipal meeting will be asked if they agree to raise the salaries of 14 high-level positions by $188,286 to make their salaries more competitive and try to give employees a break before accept employment elsewhere.

Residents will gather in the Ruth B. Smith Auditorium at City Hall at 7 p.m. to act on the seven items of a special city meeting mandate before moving on to the 36-item mandate of the annual meeting of the city.

Budget

Orange has dealt with retention issues for years, as workers often work for relatively short periods of time before leaving for municipal positions in other cities for fairer pay. Department heads were asked in the fall to conduct salary surveys of their counterparts in 10 cities of similar population and budget means to Orange within a 50-mile radius and preferably in Franklin County.

Finance Committee Chairman Keith LaRiviere explained that City Administrator Gabriele Voelker checked with the state Ethics Commission to confirm that the fact that department heads are conducting the investigations n violated any conflict of interest laws. LaRivière said these proposed increases were slow in coming.

“We’ve been looking at this issue for years,” he said, adding that passing all of the proposed increases would cost $188,286, or less than 1% of the overall budget. He stressed that any raise would be tied to the position – not who currently holds it.

According to the draft budget, the finance committee recommends increasing the salary of the municipal administrator to $136,834.34, an increase of $29,575 or 27.6%. The committee also recommends increasing the salary of the municipal accountant by 2%, to $76,500; the collector’s salary by 10.4%, to $51,226.18; the salary of the City Clerk by 21.15%, to $64,934; the salary of the director of community development by 18.3%, to $81,455; the chief of police’s salary by 21.78%, to $125,453.40; the fire chief’s salary by 24%, to $133,976.18; the Building Commissioner’s salary by 25% to $80,000; the salary of the superintendent of roads, parks and cemeteries by 26.6%, to $92,901.44; the sanitation superintendent’s salary by 5.9%, to $58,186; the salary of the director of the municipal airport of Orange by 38.6%, to $92,041.18; the health worker’s salary by 13.9%, to $74,920.40; the salary of the director of the Council on Aging by 2%, to $43,414.02; and the library director’s salary by 9.6%, to $67,829.74.

LaRiviere said raising those salaries to more appropriate levels will make employees less likely to leave for other jobs. He also acknowledged that the proposed increases might upset some taxpayers.

“I think it’s fair to say that it’s a lot of work every year trying to achieve a balanced budget that tries to meet all the needs of the city,” he said.

His wife, Jane Peirce, who chairs the Selectboard, also said she expects the budget to spark controversy on Tuesday. Still, she said, it’s important that city workers “be paid fairly for the great work they do.”

The overall proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 is approximately $24.9 million, down from $22.7 million (or 10%) in the current fiscal year.

The proposed budget also includes a 2.4% increase in police department salaries, to $1.1 million, and a 6.1% increase in fire department salaries, to $1.08 million. .

The total budget proposed for education is $13.1 million, an increase of 7.6%.

Other items

The Annual Municipal Meeting Terms of Reference also contain items regarding the appropriation and transfer of free money of $28,570 for the payment of the fifth year of a five-year lease for the Highway Boom Mower ; appropriate and transfer free money $16,000 for firefighter protective clothing; and do the same with $25,000 to start a building demolition fund to clean up properties that the building commissioner says are unsafe or unsafe for the public.

Budgets of $865,228 for the Water Enterprise Fund and $1.1 million for the Wastewater Treatment Plant/Sewer Enterprise Fund are also proposed, as is an article on reducing the number of committee members from seven to five. elementary schools.

There are also citizen petition papers asking if townspeople want the nominating committee and board of health to rotate their positions of president, vice president, and clerk each year.

The city’s special meeting mandate consists of seven items, including one relating to the transfer of $50,000 of the money available for moving expenses incurred to move the city’s offices from the Orange Armory to 62 Cheney St. .

Both mandates and a copy of the proposed budget are available at bit.ly/3n5dKe1.

Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.