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Finance Board Members Raise Concern Over Building Official's Salary

The board is now deciding how to move forward after receiving a request to increase the budget for Middlefield's building inspector position.

 

Middlefield's Board of Finance is seeking more information as it deals with a request to increase the salary of the town's top building official.

At a Jan. 17 meeting, board members spent about 45 minutes discussing a decision last year by First Selectman Jon Brayshaw to increase building inspector Robert Meyers' hours from 21 per week to 28, to deal with an "overflow of building permits."

Chairman Lucy Petrella said the board received the first selectman's request on Nov. 16 but never approved the increase but that Meyers had already accrued 60 hours beyond what the position was budgeted for.

"It's a line item overage, and in order to justify it I think you need to start here. He needs to come here to get approval of the funds," Petrella said.

While there were not enough members present at last week's meeting for a quorum, the three members in attendance — Petrella, Jim Irish and Alice Malcolm — openly discussed whether the increase in hours was justified.

"We haven't seen adequate information to justify an increase of over 30-percent in the hours," Irish said.

"We're not exactly looking at a time frame where, like the 80's, when we had all these building booms here. It might be picking up a bit, I don't know," Petrella added.

According to Petrella, the Nov. 16 request called for an additional 198 hours, or seven additional hours each week until the end of the current fiscal year. The additional hours would increase the budget line by $7,189, she said.

Meyers' current salary is $38,861 annually, for a 21-hour work week.

In his initial request to the board, Brayshaw cited two proposed subdivisions, ongoing construction at Powder Ridge and Indian Springs Golf Course and at least two other other building projects as the reason for increased hours.

Board members, however, expressed concerned that some of the work hadn't begun and even discussed whether it be more financially suitable for the town to eliminate the building inspector position altogether and hire an outside company on an "as-needed" basis.

"I think this is worth exploring," Petrella said.

Malcolm also expressed frustration with Brayshaw's decision to approve the extended hours without getting the board's approval.

"What's the purpose of having a board of finance," Malcolm asked. "He cannot increase the hours without the authorization."

Irish pointed out that the finance board went through a similar process last year after receiving a request for increased hours from the town's park and recreation director.

Eventually, after several lengthy discussions and even a town meeting, the request was approved, Petrella said.

Petrella said she planned to write a letter to send to Brayshaw and Meyers requesting more information about upcoming projects and the need for additional hours.

"If we're going to be effective, we need to be effective," she said.

Ex Republican January 23, 2013 at 07:47 PM
"What's the purpose of having a board of finance," Malcolm asked. I agree since not enough members gave enough of a hoot to show up so a quorum could be made. You know, glass houses and all that stuff.
Kurt Bober January 23, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Boards of finance have a simple clear cut job by state statute. They are custodians of money. They make no policy decisions. They don't hire/fire. They don't tell boards of selectman what they can do or can not do. They can tell the selectman we have this much money or no money. That is their role. Not policy makers. If the board of finance wants to make day to day decisions why do you have a financial officer. The building official salary is peanuts compared to his.
edmund dantes January 24, 2013 at 01:56 AM
I think we need a better understanding of how much time it takes to process one building permit. 1 day seems like plenty to me, but let's say it's 21 hours, a week at current salary. Even with inspections, it can't be more than that, can it? So, let's say there's 50 building permits per year, giving the guy 2 weeks of vacation. So, the cost to the town would then be $775 to process each building permit, before giving this guy a raise. Seems seriously high to me, especially when you consider he gets benefits too, and that whoever gets a building permit has to pay a fee also. Also, have there been 50 building permits in Middlefield this year?
Michael Hayes January 24, 2013 at 02:42 AM
There are no benefits with a 21 hour/week position.
don January 24, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Town should look into this they are paying a person to enforce codes when that person has been fined by the state for not following them. Interesting.

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