Scanning the fiscal 2009 budget for the City of Newburyport, I noticed that nearly every union member received a cost-of-living-allowance raise. Good for them. Like neighboring Haverhill Mayor Jim Fiorentini, I respect the city’s unions and the hard work they do.
But I also look at city employees who are not unionized and/or for one reason or another are not receiving salary increases, including the mayor, city clerk, planning director, veterans’ director, library director, department of public services director, harbormaster, water superintendent, part-time parking clerk, department of public services summer employees, board of registrars, clam warden, and the 11-member city council.
Of note, the administrative assistant to the water superintendent is earning 31 cents less in fiscal 2009 than in fiscal 2008. Typo?
It’s also worth mentioning the deputy director of the department of public services is earning about $2,500 less in fiscal 2009, undoubtedly spurred because of the new hire in the role.
Again, I don’t doubt the worth of unions but I am repeatedly reminded when talking to colleagues in other municipalities that numerous Newburyport department heads are unionized. I recognize the history and reasons behind this department heads union, but imagine the savings in time and money if these fine individuals choose to leave the union.
I am also irked by salary raises to the police and fire department heads, neither of whom are unionized but are both allowed raises (I think) according to their contracts. This year, the police marshal receives a $2300 increase to $120,016; and the fire chief earns almost $2000 more to $101,261.
I bring this up in light of a story yesterday in Florida’s News-Journal about the Port Orange city manager refusing a $3,200 raise.
“Until we get this economy sort of calmed down,” he said, “I’m not trying to put more money in the budget.”
Good for him. I’d like to see other municipal officials around the country, whether unionized or not, follow Ken Parker’s example.