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Top pay: Fairfield's highest-paid public employees again school, police personnel

Published 7:33 am, Monday, January 27, 2014
  • The top salaries paid to Fairfield's public employees in 2013 were dominated by education and police personnel. Photo: File Photo / Fairfield Citizen
    The top salaries paid to Fairfield's public employees in 2013 were dominated by education and police personnel. Photo: File Photo

 

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The top salaries paid to Fairfield's public employees in 2013 were once again dominated by police and school personnel, with the three highest wages paid to the same people as last year.

Leading the way is Superintendent of Schools David Title, whose $283,568 in compensation was actually $352 less than in 2012. Ranked second again is police Lt. Christopher Tursi, who was paid a total of $223,870. Of that, $61,908 was outside duty pay that he received for jobs done for private contractors and not paid by the town.

The third spot again was held by Deputy Superintendent of Schools Karen Parks, with wages last year of $189,639.

Of the top 25, 14 are Police Department personnel, eight are educators and three are from the Fire Department.

Police Chief Gary MacNamara is ranked at No. 23, with earnings of $158,144, while his counterpart at the Fire Department, Chief Richard Felner, finishes the top 25 of the public payroll list at $157,399.

Some factors need to be considered when reviewing compensation to public employees, Board of Finance Chairman Tom Flynn said.

First, he said, it's apples and oranges comparing "town" employees with educators.

People such as the superintendent, he said, have earnings based on a set salary, while others, like police officers, have wages that include "significant compensation for overtime hours."

Title and other educators "have very specific skill sets/education requirements and credentials," Flynn said. "It is my understanding that when their salaries are determined by the Board of Education, they have benchmarked the market rates for those credentials and have taken into consideration the experience level of the individual by analyzing what is happening in other similar municipalities."

Other employees also have unique skill sets, training and experience, Flynn said, but their earnings aren't based solely on those factors and also include overtime hours.

"It is more appropriate to analyze their salaries in comparison to similar (positions) in other municipalities to confirm the market rates," he said.

The finance board has, in previous years, reviewed a wage analysis, Flynn said, that demonstrates having employees work overtime hours, rather than hiring additional staff, decreases the overall expense to taxpayers.

"For each new position, the town provides compensation, vacation, health benefits, pension benefits, post-retirement medical benefits -- not to mention training, sick days and uniforms," Flynn said. "By having some existing employees work overtime hours and not hiring additional staff, the town avoids all of those incremental costs associated with additional headcount."

Other than MacNamara and Felner, there were no town department heads on the combined list of top 25 salaries last year.

When town-side employees only are considered, Building Official James Gilleran, who retired at the end of the year, was number 35, with wages of $141,201, and Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo was ranked 46th with earnings of $135,026.

First Selectman Michael Tetreau, the town's top executive, is nowhere to be found on the top 25 list, with an annual salary of $131,428.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost