Lynn Monty, Editor in Chief

Charlotte Town Clerk/Treasurer Mary Mead to receive pay raise. File photo.

The Charlotte Selectboard approved new factor scores for the town administrator and town clerk/treasurer positions on Jan. 17. When combined with step increases and cost-of-living adjustments this means pay increases for both.

With the Palmer and Associates job evaluation grade-and-step system, the board determined the town administrator’s position should be grade 19 rather than the current grade 20—primarily due to changes in the evaluation of supervision exercised and financial and material accountability. That for the town clerk/treasurer should be 19 rather than the current 18—primarily because of a change in the score for supervision exercised.

The new factor scores were agreed upon by the current Selectboard and will be reviewed by the next Selectboard in March after the election for concurrence. “This is to assure there is no bias in our factor determination,” Chairman Lane Morrison said. “Once agreement is reached, pay adjustments, if any, will take place July 1, 2017, first day of the fiscal year.”

A pay policy clause states any decrease in pay grade for current employees will not reduce their current pay. Town Administrator Dean Bloch’s pay for 2017–18, if approved by the next Selectboard, will be based on his current pay at grade 20, plus applicable cost-of-living and step adjustments. Together these will increase his salary from its current $64,438 to $66,227.

Town Clerk/Treasurer Mary Mead’s pay will be based on the current grade of 18 until the new Selectboard agrees with the town clerk/treasurer grade adjustment from 18 to 19. Until that is confirmed, she is slated to receive a cost-of-living increase, in addition to a one-time two percent increase that the Selectboard agreed to in 2016 to recognize long-term town employees. Together these will increase her salary from $64,522 to $66,331. Mead’s salary will increase another 5 percent, to $69,648, if the grade adjustment from 18 to 19 is approved.

Prior to the Selectboard’s vote on the new job factor scores for the two positions, Morrison reviewed the history of the town clerk/treasurer pay issues, which started with a request by Mary Mead for a pay raise at the March 2014 Town Meeting.

To evaluate Mead’s request and to ensure equity in the salaries paid to all town employees, the Selectboard reviewed the pay systems in a number of towns throughout the state and eventually adopted the Palmer and Associates job evaluation grade-and-step system. “The human resources consultant that the town hired when this process was created and the state human resources director both complimented the town for developing the system that we now have,” Morrison said.

All employees, including Mead, reviewed their initial grades and steps, Morrison said. “There seemed to be an agreement in January 2015 when the policies were approved,” he said. “As time went on, Mary continually challenged her grade and pay. There was no change in her job description over the last couple of years, but she felt she was rated too low and very vocally objected to the pay system overall.”

The town had been dealing with Mead’s pay raise request and subsequent grievances for more than two years. “In May of 2016 we were about to finish this negotiation but learned that another grievance was submitted to the Vermont Department of Labor for $15,000 and later updated to $17,000 by Mead regarding back pay,” Morrison said.

The Selectboard stopped discussing the matter until August of 2016 when the Department of Labor ruled Mead was not entitled to back pay. Morrison said the town clerk/treasurer job evaluation was researched and found to be consistent with market conditions, but Mead still requested a higher job factor score and pay grade.

“The board made adjustments to satisfy some needed corrections brought up by Mary, and now I think we have a pay system that is good for the years to come,” Morrison said. “I believe the Selectboard has been fair and responsive to the issues that Mary has brought to us over the last several years and hope we don’t have to spend any more time on the pay system. There are other important town issues to address.”

Mead declined to comment on the process when The News requested an interview.