Faced with the chance to freeze or cut the salaries of the city’s elected officials this week, city councilors did nothing.
Three councilors sought to impose a two-year freeze on pay for those elected this November, but three others voted against it.
The trio who opposed it said they want to see a pay cut instead, an idea that couldn’t muster support from the three who backed a freeze.
One city councilor, Democrat Craig Minor, missed the meeting.
But it’s not clear which way he would have gone.
“I need to know more before I make a decision,” Minor said Wednesday.
The city’s Salary Committee recommended freezing the pay of elected officials for the next term, a move that hasn’t been done in years.
But city Councilors Cliff Block and Ken Cockayne said they want to see salaries cut back by 3 percent for the mayor, city councilors, treasurer and Board of Assessment Appeals members.
Block said that officials had no idea “the sky was going to fall” on the economy last year when they agreed to hike elected officials’ pay by 3 percent in 2008. Reeling it back down, he said, would set the right example for the rest of city government.
Cockayne said that Bristol’s leaders should show “they are willing to take a cut” and not just hold the line on increases.
Three officials – Mayor Art Ward and city Councilors Frank Nicastro and Mike Rimcoski – said that freezing pay was the right move for the times.
Nicastro told Ward that as the city’s leader, he earns his money.
“You’re far from the highest paid” municipal worker, Nicastro told the mayor, pointing out that the Top 50 earners all raked in substantially more than the mayor.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley said he didn’t think the council could take up the idea of reducing pay because the salary panel had been told to consider a freeze. He said the committee should have a chance to reexamine options.
The issue is likely going to be taken up again at the May council meeting. If nothing is done, though, the pay would remain the same for the next term.
The city is obligated to set the salary for elected officials before the municipal elections so that voters will know how much the people they choose will earn. The pay rates can’t be changed mid-term.
Rimcoski told Block that he had a chance to freeze pay, but refused.
“I hope you enjoy your 300 extra bucks, Mike,” Block responded.\
Current pay for city leaders
Mayor - $102,025
City councilors - $10,156
City treasurer - $5,079
Board of Assessment Appeals chair -- $1,343
Board of Assessment Appeals - $1,140
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