Letter: Look beyond the numbers on Fairfield’s top pay list
Published 7:19 am, Saturday, February 6, 2016
Every year the press treats us to a list of the top wage earners in town. I find the list of very little informational value. For one, the list groups the salaried and hourly workers together. The list makes no distinction between management and union workers.
For another, the list points out jobs where town workers bill out their time as if that does not cost the taxpayer money. Technically, that is true. However, if you think that the cost of those shameless marginally identified cops out there at road jobs texting and talking on their electronic devices isn't passed on to the taxpayer, then you probably believe in the concept of a free lunch, too. Those costs aren't in our local tax bills, but they are passed along in our gas, electric and telephone bills, to name a few.
Further, certain hourly union employees often grab as much overtime as they can. I am all for it so long as they do the work and earn their pay under the deal the union cut. Many on the big list do, but admittedly, a few do not. Unfortunately, the rank-and-file union members in this town do not always do the work, but that even happens on straight time, too. None of that quality and performance problem ever makes the list or hits the headlines.
Envying somebody's take-home pay is quite petty. Asking for quality and productive performance is not. And envy seems to be the only thing I ever hear when this annual story is published. The quality and productive performance problem just gets deflected. Managers cut their deals with the Board of Selectman and Board of Education. Unions cut their deals with the first selectman or the BoE and the Representative Town Meeting. The time to object to the compensation is when those deals go down.
The BoS, the chief executive board on the town side of things, and the BoE, the chief board on all things education in town, have a pretty laissez-faire attitude to non-performing employees just so long so they all go along to get along. They do not much care whether that is on straight time or overtime. With no metrics whatsoever to support their claim, the BoS and BoE just like to say the town employees are "the best in the state" or some kind of "model" just so they can get that union vote.
Fairfield has a quality and performance problem across just about every department in this town. The pay across the board would probably be worth paying out if the people who run this place would come out from under their tables and do their jobs — manage this place and fire up all of the dead wood, too.