FAIRFIELD — As of this year, department head raises will be approved by the Board of Selectmen each February, and be included as part of the budget.

In past years, the first selectman brought his recommendations for salary increases to the board in the summer, after the budget had been adopted. This year, the raises were included in the budget that the selectmen reviewed and approved in March.

Though he voted on the budget, Selectman Chris Tymniak said he was unaware the process changed, while Selectman Edward Bateson was not on the board at the time of the approval.

“During the summer, I was expecting us to get (the salaries at) our regular meeting,” Bateson said. “When we didn’t, I thought we were on a freeze until I ran into (Public Works Director Joseph) Michelangelo and found out there were some raises.”

Bateson said he liked that the salary increases were “front loaded” into the budget. First Selectman Mike Tetreau said he would update the list so there is a five-year summary, and in February present the recommendations to the board.

“This makes it effective on July 1,” Tetreau said, which was one of the board’s goals instead of having raises be retroactive.

“I think doing it in Febraury makes more sense, so it is part of the budget,” Tymniak said. “The surprise came that it was in the budget; we weren’t notified.”

Tetreau said he thought the board had discussed it and, if he was not clear about what he was doing, apologized.

Tymniak said when the salaries are set in February, “It’s important to highlight the good work department heads have done and acknowledge from the Board of Selectmen for a job well done.” He also said there should be a discussion of department heads’ health insurance contributions. Currently, the department heads pay 18 percent of their insurance premium.

“I would like to see that go up,” Bateson said.

However, Tetreau said the town’s benefit package is not competitive with other towns. “I get that,” Bateson said, but said it is a conversation they should have in February.

Bateson said he had no objections to the raises, which he said seemed to “be in line with everything else.”

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Department head raises

Conservation Director Brian Carey $118,450 to $120,819

Human Resources Director Emmet Hibson $136,500 to $139,320 (also receives $50,000 stipend)

Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhardt $137,049 to $139,790

Chief Financial Officer Robert Mayer $156,700 to $161,401

Assessor Ross Murray $125,092 to $125,460

Information Technology Director David Kelley $122,00 to $124,440

Fire Chief Denis McCarthy $145,550 to $148,461

Police Chief Gary MacNamara $155,418 to $158,527

Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo $144,126 to $148,450

Health Director Sands Cleary $121,814 to $127,979

Recreation Director Anthony Calabrese $115,000 to $118,830