February 24

Oakland manager proposes pay hike for some town employees

Eight town officials, including the police chief and head librarian, could get raises that put them more in line with same-sized towns.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

DEPARTMENT HEAD RAISES: Oakland police officer Todd Burbank, left, speaks with Chief Mike Tracy, right, as Capt. Rick Stubbert listens at the department last year. Pay for the positions of Tracy and Stubbert and six others town positions could increase if a proposed budget passes that includes increases in salaries equal to towns of similar sizes.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

DEPARTMENT HEAD RAISES: Oakland Transfer Station Manager John Thomas beside flower gardens he planted at the Oakland Transfer Station. Thomas’ position is one of eight in town that could see a pay raise if a proposed budget is passed that includes wage increases for the employees that are currently paid at levels below other towns of similar size.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

Oakland employee pay hike: By the numbers

A proposal by Oakland Town Manager Peter Nielsen would give eight of the town’s top employees significant raises. Proponents say the raises are long overdue and would bring the salaries for those positions up to 92 percent of the average salary for the equivalent positions at comparable towns across the state.


Head Librarian Sarah Roy is paid $18.93 an hour. She would get the biggest increase, $9.46 an hour, to $28.39. The statewide average for that position is $30.86 per hour.


Assistant librarian Lisa Stevens who makes $11.05, would get a $4.95 increase to $16 per hour. The state average is $17.39.


Public Works Director Jeffrey Hally makes $25.11 an hour; he would get an increase of $4.25 an hour, to $29.36. The state average is $31.91.


Highway foreman Roland Cote makes $18.25 per hour; he would receive an increase of $2.52, to $20.77. The state average is $22.58.


Transfer station manager Johnny Thomas makes $15.55, and would get an increase of $1.88, to $17.43 per hour. The state average is $18.95.


Fire Chief Dave Coughlin makes $25.87, and would get an increase of $2.34, to $28.21. The state average is $30.66.


Police Chief Mike Tracy makes $29.85 per hour, and would get an increase of $1.47, to $31.32. The state average is $34.04.


Police Captain Rick Stubbert makes $24.77 per hour and would get an increase of $1.97, to $26.74. The state average is $29.06.

— Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

The total town budget proposed by Nielsen for next year is $4.49 million, an increase of 5.83 percent over the current budget of $4.24 million. Some of that increase will be picked up by the added anticipated revenues, but some will result in a property tax hike.

In all, the budget would cause a property tax rate increase of 42 cents per $1,000 in taxable property, which means that a taxpayer who owns a $100,000 property would pay about $42 more. The current tax rate is $13.80 per $1,000.

Nielsen said the town has not taken a comprehensive look at basic wage fairness in the five years he’s served as manager and that more needs to be done to recruit and retain good employees.

“I think sometimes these comparisons are not made,” Nielsen said. “History rolls along. You get further away from a market figure each time you fail to address these issues.”

Tracy, who has been with the police department for 33 years, said sees the wage disparity as a fairness issue, but that he hasn’t been carrying around resentment as a result of his salary.

“It’s a small town with a small number of employees. We all get along together very well. It’s almost a family atmosphere,” he said. “That certainly factors in.”

Nielsen said an employee shouldn’t have to threaten to leave to be rewarded adequately for their service.

“Oakland has some people who have been working here a long time,” Nielsen said. “That says a good thing about Oakland. It says a good thing about our employees. But if the long term plan is to pay them below average, what does that say?”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 mhhetling@centralmaine.com Twitter: @hh_matt
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