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New study shows town police pay $10K over selected communities

Mix of results in fiscal '17 review

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A new study of compensation levels for all town and school employees shows that police make $10,300 more, on average, than those in selected neighboring communities.

Board of Selectmen logo, Jan. 23, 2013

The study, received with praise by selectmen Sept. 25, updates one done 3 1/2 years ago. Overall, it shows that the higher police compensation stands apart from other groups of employees, whose pay and benefits are equal to or lower than the communities with which Arlington was compared.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine called the fiscal 2017 Benchmark Salary Study, presented by Sandy Stapcynski of HRS Consulting of Andover, "very helpful" to all sides involved in salary negotiations, including union representatives.

This reception is a far cry from attitudes expressed during the years immediately before 2011, when pay issues riled town unions as town and school employees faced join the Group Insurance Commission. The state health-insurance program has turned out to be a win-win for employees and the fiscal budgets.

The 2017 study recommend updating the town's classification system for compensation. In addition, HRS recommends that the town "now look to its internal equity among positions, to complement the market comparability analysis that they have done so well."

Last update 17 years ago

Caryn Malloy, town human-resources director, told YourArlington Oct. 2 that the last classification study was completed in 2000.

In her presentation to selectmen, aided by Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler, Stapcynski spoke generally. She said town and school "benefit packages appear strong," while pay is competitive among some positions, but not, not others.

She cited one specific: "Public safety appears competitive," while some administrators in other departments had "fallen behind."

As Stapcynski provided reams of numbers, the brows of selectmen furrowed, drawing questions from Selectman Diane Mahon, long a union supporter.

Selectman Kevin Greeley introduced a moment of levity: "Did you compare pay for selectmen?"

Some chuckles erupted from the audience. Selectmen have long been paid at a rate that has not changed in years; the chair gets $3,500 annually; members $3,000 each.

Teacher, public-safety pay

More seriously, Greeley asked whether teachers are paid competitively. Stapcynski responded with a "that-depends" answer. Teacher compensation is a maze of steps and lanes. All she would allow is that certain pay categories remain "below" what they might be.

As to specifics regarding police compensation, Selectman Dan Dunn pointed to the bottom of p. 22 in the report, showing police officers at $92,054, $10,311 above the average. The bar graph on the same page shows only Medford among the communities above that number.

"This is the data that helps us make good decisions," Dunn said of the study.

Selectman Chairman Joseph Curro Jr. recalled from his time on the School Committee that the toughest part of reach an agreement with teachers was finding common ground on accepted data.

Negotiations that led to agreement to enter the GIC included town and school talks to agree on which communities to compare Arlington as to compensation. They are Belmont, Brookline, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Natick, Needham, North Andover, Reading, Stoneham, Watertown and Winchester.

The fiscal 2017 study used the same footprint as one in 2014 reviewing total compensation (pay plus benefits). It benchmarks 100 positions, comparing Arlington employees to the labor market defined by the above-listed communities.

Stapcynski called the responses from those communities "excellent," though she admitted some numbers took some encouragement to get.

Under each position listed in the study are two numbers -- the maximum and minimum for each. These number do not show the actual compensation for each position

Cove wrote that the numbers in the study show the base only; they do not show other earnings, such as longevity or overtime eligibility. Public-safety positions have multiple other factors besides base pay, she wrote.

Looking ahead, Stapcynski said the pay-equity law to be in effect next July would make the state a "trend-setter." Read about that law here >> 

Selectmen voted to receive the report, 5-0.

New manager for Arlington Liquors

In other business, the board:

-- Welcomed the new manager for Arlington Liquors, the Summer Street store that faces a 10-day suspension for various violations, to be served by Oct. 25; Abdelhak Elfatihi takes over full time from owner Alex Kushnirsky. The former leaves Kushnirsky's Medford store, where he has worked 11 years.

-- Heard recommendations from the Transportation Advisory Committee aimed at controlling traffic speeds on Lowell Street (posted at 30 mph) near the Reservoir and traffic/parking changes near the Lesley Ellis School on Winter Street. The board voted to approve a $47,520 plan for an electronic driver-feedback sign on Lowell and a push-button signal at Westmoreland subject to the availability of funding via the state Complete Streets program or town capital planning. See memos here >> 

-- Heard Chapdelaine advise delaying until spring recommendations for bike-sharing in the light of a proposal for docking technology competing with Hubway. See memos here >>

-- Proclaimed Sept. 25 Jeffrey Chunglo Day in Arlington in recognition of his service in the U.S. Navy and as the town's veterans' services officer for three-plus years. Chunglo said he owed everything to his wife, Diane, who accompanied him.

-- Approved the following consent agenda, with exceptions noted:

2. Minutes of Meeting: September 11, 2017

3. For Approval: Daniel J. Dunn as Board Designee to Marijuana Study Committee, Joseph A. Curro, Jr., Chair

4. For Approval: Lions Club Eyemobile at Town Hall, Saturday, 10/28/17, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., David Garrity, Secretary, Arlington Lions Club

5. For Approval: AHS All Sports Boosters Club 5K Turkey Trot, Kierstin Merlino, AHS Athletic Trainer

6. For Approval: Sandwich Board for Bishop School PTO Pumpkin Sale at Intersection of Mystic Street and Kimball Road, 10/10/17 - 10/14/17, Katherine Reisz-Hanson, Bishop School PTO

7. Request: Special (One Day) Beer & Wine License, 10/14/17 at Whittemore Robbins House for a Private Event, Jason Lydic

8. Request: Special (One Day) Beer & Wine License, 10/15/17 at Masonic Temple for Punahou School, Honolulu, HI Alumni Reunion, Lynn Parish, Alumni Relations, Punahou School

9. Request: Contractor/Drainlayer License, Callahan & Montalto Site Construction, Holden, MA

10. Request: Contractor/Drainlayer License, Commonwealth Construction & Utilities, Inc., Watertown, MA 

11. Request: Contractor/Drainlayer License, Marchi Paving Inc., West Newton, MA


12. Zoning Board of Appeals, Associate Members (terms to expire 10/1/2020), Joseph A. Curro, Jr., Chair 

One of two vacancies for the nonvoting posttions was filled; the other was tabled.

Appointed was Pat Hanlon, who had served on planning board in Fairfax County, Va. Dunn praised his background, noting it would help in the Mugar project, which remains on hold. 

 Full 2017 compensation report >> 

Full 2014 compensation report >> 

This news summary was published Monday, Oct. 2, 2017.

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