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Rutland Mayor Proposes Pay Rate Study

Rutland, VT
Doug Kerr-Dougtone/Flickr
Rutland, VT

Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras has brought a proposal before the city Board of Aldermen to bring an outside consultant to analyze the pay rates of city department heads.

The pay rates for city of Rutland department heads has been at issue for several years.  At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Aldermen, Mayor Louras asked for approval to hire an outside consultant to compare what Rutland pays its department heads versus similar positions in other cities. Louras said he believes it would be a way to generate objective numbers for the city’s budget process.

Alderman Ed Larson has been involved in five budgets and there has been no guidance on how to set department head salaries.  “I don’t always agree with the mayor but in this particular case I do because I think it certainly will assist in providing the input we need to determine what our commensurate rates.  We’ve never had an analysis or a study to my knowledge of what other communities are paying their department heads and/or their elected officials. And part of the mayor’s package was for elected officials also. It’s always been predicated on what the mayor submits in the budget and what the mayor felt was appropriate for those department heads.  I think to have some indication certainly helps you to reflect back as to whether or not the pay raises that are proportioned by the mayor are actually merited.”  

Part of the problem is that by providing only cost-of-living increases or not adjusting the rates when a department head leaves, it means the salaries are becoming uncompetitive and unbalanced with other departmental employees.

Alderman Sharon Davis says she doesn’t have a problem with a consultant reviewing salary rates as long as the study assesses only communities that are similar to Rutland city.  “The board, especially over the last eight years, has struggled more because we have seen department heads leave and department heads begin, and those new department heads starting, I won’t say always, sometimes at the same levels that an experienced department head has left. And board members have taken issue with that. Also lots of concern with the high tax rate in the city and having opportunities to decrease the budget.  And there’s lots of times the only place you can go is to a salaried line item.”

Larson emphasizes that the city is at a very preliminary stage in the process and no money has yet been committed for a study.  “The mayor has asked for a request for proposals from companies that do this type of work. Before we budget any money to do that we certainly want to hear what those companies that might bid on this have to say, what they are offering  and where they intend to make the comparisons. We need to look outside the state lines as well. We’re looking out of state for a new police chief. We have not actually budgeted any monies yet for this particular proposal. It’s simply for the mayor to seek out firms that can do this type of work and determine what they are able to do.”

The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the mayor's proposal.  Mayor Louras has said he wants the study completed in time for the board to vote on salaries in October. His office did not return calls for comment in time for broadcast.