Thursday, February 14, 2008

A tidy sum

Panel OKs up to $160G for chief

By Maria Garriga
Register Staff
— In an effort to lure top candidates to apply for city police chief, the Board of Aldermen’s finance committee Wednesday approved 8-1 a proposal that would create a new pay category solely for the chief, with a ceiling of $160,000.
That could make the chief the second-highest paid salaried city official after the superintendent of schools, who currently earns $202,000 a year.
The current chief, Francisco Ortiz Jr., earns $105,000 and is retiring.
The Board of Aldermen would approve the range of the pay category, but it would be up to the mayor to set the actual salary within the range.
Just six months ago, the board approved pay increases for the city’s highest level managers, and committee members felt the additional increase would be too much too soon for taxpayers.
Alderman Jorge Perez, D-5, proposed an amendment to lower the ceiling from $160,000 to $150,000 in a bid to save some taxpayer money. The committee voted in a 4-4 tie with one abstention by Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks.
Alderman Carl Goldfield, D-29, said the salary increase needed to take into account the risks taken by the candidate, who will assume the remainder of a four-year contract, and lack of pot sweeteners such as pension benefits, which would only become available after 10 years on the job.
Chief adminstrative officer Robert Smuts explained that a review of salaries paid to police chiefs in comparable cities showed that many communities pay more than New Haven. He cited Providence, R.I., as an example, which pays $152,000, while Hartford pays its chief $145,000 and Bridgeport pays $118,000.
“I believe the public would support the raise, but my problem is that it is excessive,” said Ken Joyner, a New Haven resident and the only member of the public to speak out.
Joyner pointed out that the city’s median income for individuals is $31,500, and suggested that the public may not be getting the kind of wage increases necessary to pay for the salary hike proposed by the mayor’s office.
“We need to stop just throwing money at a problem,” Joyner said.
Maria Garriga can be reached an or 789-5726.

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