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Mendon Approves Town Administrator’s Salary Increase as Part of New Budget

After a fairly lengthy debate, Mendon voters rejected an amendment by a secret ballot vote to decrease the proposed Town Administrator's Salary Line item, eventually voting to support the recommend increased amount of $117,742. The vote was taken during the presentation of the town's new Fiscal Year 2017 budget at the May 6 Annual Town Meeting.

Mendon's new Fiscal Year budget totals $17.8 million, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year. One of the driver's behind that increase is an 11.5 percent rise in town employee's health insurance. Another reason for the overall increase is the new Library's operating budget, which rose approximately $30,000 due to its expansion. According to the Finance Committee's report, "The Library budget is now back to a level consistent with its cost before cuts were imposed several years ago."

The Mendon Upton Regional School District's budget and associated debt totals $9.44 million, a 1.64 percent increase over last year. Blackstone Valley Tech's budget totaled $920,062, which is a 13.11 percent increase. Part of reason for the increase is due to three additional students attending BVT.

It was during the reading of the new recommended budget that debate commenced over the Town Administrator's salary increase. In January, the Board of Selectmen approved a new salary increase for the Town Administrator after learning she had been approached by the Town of Canton to serve as their Town Administrator for a much higher salary. Hoping to keep her in Mendon, the Selectmen voted to approve a salary increase from $87,500 to $117,742.

During the May 6 meeting, resident Claudia Cataldo held the salary line item and eventually requested the Selectmen's and Finance Committee's recommended $117,742 amount be reduced to $90,000. According to Cataldo, also the former Town Accountant, the $90,000 was the original raise in Newman's contract and the much larger increase was "unjust to the taxpayers." Cataldo also stated there are currently a number of other long-term, underpaid town employees.

During a March 21 Special Town Meeting, Cataldo also asked voters to reject Newman's raise for the remainder of the current fiscal year. That measure passed by a secret ballot vote of 59 to 38. An increase, however, was again placed in the new fiscal year budget presented to voters during the May Town Meeting and Cataldo brought the argument forward again asking citizens to deny Newman's recommended raise.

However, Finance Committee Chair Mike Merolli said the town was legally obligated to fund the new contract and that if Newman sued the town over breach of contract, the legal damages could be significant.

Former Selectman Mike Goddard spoke to the voters praising Newman's work over the last several years. "Having worked with her, I guarantee the town is more efficient," he said.

Miscoe Road resident Carl Hommel questioned why people were making such a big deal out of the raise and also stated Mendon voters have a reputation of going against Town Counsel's advice, therefore causing financial difficulties for the town.

After a lengthy debate, Cataldo's amendment to reduce Newman's salary increase was defeated by a requested secret ballot vote of 97 to 77, and the initial $117,742 increase was reinstated.




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