Lanesborough nonunion workers up for 1.5 percent raise

LANESBOROUGH — Nonunion town employees are in line for a modest 1.5 percent pay hike, after Town Manager Paul Sieloff fought for the increase before the Select Board on Tuesday.

The salary boost was a compromise reached during the board's review of the proposed $11.4 million budget for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1.

Selectman Robert Ericson had questioned the necessity of Sieloff's proposed 2 percent pay hike for about 30, mostly part-time, municipal workers. Ericson found it hard to justify pay hikes with the local property tax rate annually on the rise and many residents on fixed incomes.

"We need to watch our expenses. People are complaining about taxes and will start moving out," he said. "We'll become a ghost town."

Sieloff noted the 2 percent hike wasn't a budget-buster, adding a total of $7,000 to $8,000 to the spending plan.

"We want to reward the employees' hard work," he said. "The raises are borderline reasonable."

Ericson took the greatest exception to Sieloff getting the same percentage pay increase as the nonunion workers, atop a guaranteed 2 percent increase. The town manager initially was poised to earn an extra $3,100 in fiscal 2018. Under the 1.5 percent across-the-board pay increase, Sieloff's total salary boost would jump to nearly $79,600, a $2,700 increase.

Sieloff quickly pointed out his current three-year contract entering its third year, calls for the negotiated 2 percent, plus whatever increase the nonunion employees receive each year. Sieloff defended his and the other pay hike proposals saying the current Town Hall staff has implemented many changes for the better, since he became Lanesborough's first full-time town manager five years ago.

"I don't have any other agenda, other than to do what's appropriate for the town," he said.

Selectmen Chairman John Goerlach praised Sieloff for his municipal leadership.

"Personally, I think you've done a good job with the budgets and town employees," he said.

So the pay hike debate wouldn't drag on, Sieloff proposed the 1.5 percent salary hike, a deal agreeable to all three Selectmen.

The pay increase is among the hundreds of fiscal 2018 budget items annual town meeting voters will act on in June.

The Lanesborough Finance Committee on May 1 will have its final review of the proposed spending plan, before it lands on the town meeting warrant.

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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