With two town employees leaving for jobs in a nearby community, Canton officials approved some changes Wednesday night designed to tweak day-to-day operations and continue to try and make key positions more competitive.
Recently JoAnn Martin, Executive Assistant to the Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner and Jeff Shea, Project Administrator, accepted similar jobs in Simsbury, officials said.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting Wednesday night, Skinner recommended some changes in filling their positions.
For the position being vacated by Martin, Skinner recommended a salary increasing the executive assistant to the CAO’s position from $49,500 to $54,000, which he said was still below comparable positions in the area.
He also recommended splitting the CAO/Finance department clerk into two part-time positions and increasing the hours for the CAO clerk from 15 to 25 hours a week, a move that will require approval by town meeting on Jan. 8.
Shea’s position, which replaced that of a town engineer, has involved overseeing numerous capital projects and other duties, such as preparing Request for Proposals. While some members of the town’s land-use boards have lamented the lack of a town engineer, Skinner said he does not feel the town needs one full-time.
However, he recommended entering into a contract with an engineering firm or individual engineer to be on call for up to 200 hours for a total of up to $30,000 in the next fiscal year.
“I believe a better approach would be to contract with a firm or individual Civil Engineer to act as the Town Engineer to review town projects and certain land use applications when necessary,” Skinner wrote in a memo to selectmen. “It would work very similar to the way the town utilizes legal fees.”
In turn the project administrator position would be modified slightly in scope, have a salary of $70,000 instead of $90,000 and be placed under the purview of the Public Works Department.
“I think that position that has worked well,” Skinner said of the project administrator.
At the same time, he recommended increasing DPW director Robert Martin’s salary from $75,949 to $86,000.
In touting larger salaries Skinner, provided a spreadsheet of comparable positions and as he did last budget season, said he felt Canton should be a little more competitive.
In all, Skinner said, the changes actually result in some savings for the town.
Selectmen did raise some concerns, with Lowell Humphrey saying he’d rather discuss salaries during the budget process and David Gilchrist saying that area towns are sometimes two to three times the size of Canton and that comparisons are not always apples to apples.
However, selectmen voted for the changes.
To see all the numbers and changes, view the selectmen’s meeting packet here, pages 18 to 24. Note that Option # 1 was the one approved by selectmen.