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  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Stuart Schneiderman inquires about Article 9, which would give the Town Clerk/Tax Collector a 3% wage and benefit increase.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Mark Levesque looks through a packet of Warrant Articles, Saturday morning, during Hudson's Annual Town Meeting.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, Connie Owen speaks in favor of Article 8, which would give a wage and benefit increase to full time employees of Rogers Memorial Library in Hudson, Saturday morning at the start of Hudson's Annual Town Meeting at the Hudson Community Center.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Budget Committe members, Normand Martin, left, and Susan Guarino listen as Jennifer Chafe speaks about Article 8 during Hudson's Annual Town Meeting.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Stephen Buckley reads over a packet containing all of Hudson's Warrant Articles, Saturday morning during Hudson's Annual Town Meeting at the Hudson Community Center.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Andrew Renzullo talks with Pat Nichols as Selectman, Roger Coutu talks about a Warrant Article on the television, Saturday morning during Hudson's Annual Town Meeting at the Hudson Community Center.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris
Sunday, February 6, 2011

Salary raises increase Hudson budget

HUDSON – Raises for non-unionized department heads raised a bit of discussion at the annual town Deliberative Session.

After lengthy debate, a Board of Selectmen bid to increase the salaries of town department heads was approved by voters and added to the proposed operating budget for next fiscal year.

The $32,516 increase to the budget was among a few proposals that generated considerable discussion at the session Saturday morning.

Another proposed amendment – adding $11,416 to the proposed library budget – failed after several residents complained that Rodgers Memorial Library already has enough money to fund operations.

A Deliberative Session allows residents of towns that vote under the Senate Bill 2 process to change the line-item costs of proposals before they are placed on the ballot.

The amendment supporting raises for department heads increased the proposed operating budget to $28.26 million. Taxpayers will either approve or disapprove that and several other proposals on March 8, Election Day.

Selectmen had placed the $32,516 for raises into the operating budget during the budget creation process earlier in the year. But the municipal Budget Committee, which has final say on budget proposals, removed the item before Deliberative Session and urged selectmen to offer it as a separate ballot question so that voters could see it in detail.

But selectmen stuck to the same course at Deliberative Session, offering to place it within the operating budget because they said a similar proposal had failed several years ago.

Among the leadership positions that would see salary increases would be the police and fire chiefs, the assistant town administrator, road agent and financial director.

Selectmen said these non-union leadership positions had seen their salaries nearly matched by those of unionized supervisory positions that are lower on the management chart.

The board argued that the raises are modest and would still place the salaries below those in other communities.

But several residents objected, mostly on the grounds that the proposal should be viewed on its own as a separate warrant article.

Resident Howard Dilworth said Saturday that department heads should feel “lucky” they have jobs instead of seeking raises. Selectmen responded that the board initiated the proposal, and the department heads didn’t ask for it.

Budget Committee member Charlotte Schweiss later said if the amendment was defeated, selectmen would still find money to fund the salary increases. Selectman Roger Coutu replied that there wasn’t a “sinister plot” to secretly finance the increases if the amendment had failed.

The majority of taxpayers who attended the session eventually approved the salary increase total to be included in the operating budget, but later rejected placing $11,416 into the proposed library budget.

The library sought the money for a support and technical service position, but there was debate among taxpayers about using the money for what some thought amounted to part-time workers filling in when needed.

Some also questioned why the library would need the money when it already has a nearly $1 million operating budget.

But library trustees argued the library is busy, and the $11,416 would help staffing shortages. Recalling how construction of the library transpired only because of a large donation by two residents, library Trustee Connie Owen hypothetically asked residents, “Is it customary to take that gift and shove it on a shelf?” The amendment failed.

Selectmen told voters that the proposed town operating budget would not increase taxes, with Coutu occasionally stressing the word “town” to imply the proposed school budget would raise taxes.

Other proposals placed on the ballot, with the completion of Deliberative Session, were raising $150,000 for the design of a senior center and community television headquarters at Benson Park, and approving the privately financed use of town property for a youth football and recreation area.

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or