Vernon residents and taxpayers expect their elected officials to be prudent with their tax dollars, transparent with information and decision making, while being respectful and communicative. Government is founded upon trust and integrity. That trust is broken, when elected officials become self-serving, transparency is non- existent and the public is mistreated.
When I think about the pay raises this mayor and council voted for themselves and certain employees, the question that I ask is; do they deserve them and can we afford them? Unfortunately, the mayor and council joined the employees on the same Salary Ordinance which many of us believed was a ploy to use the employees as a “shield.” The governing body was asked to separate employee positions from their own, but they refused. I am very familiar with our senior employees who I know as hard working and dedicated to Vernon. Many of them are not included in the list of positions that will appear on the ballot for voting. All of the employees that have been on board in Vernon, prior to July 1, 2011, have received raises, according to The Public Employees Retirement System. A problem I do have is; all the newly hired employees by the mayor are slated for raises, just six months on the job. The Tax Assessor at $85,000, the Business Administrator at $100,000, the Fire Official at $59,000, and the Recreation Director at $60,000 could get raises ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 in just six months. Another problem is the breach of trust whereby the mayor promised the voters, while campaigning, that he was so skilled that he could do the job for $500 per week, part time. I am sure most thought that also meant without benefits. Instead, he started at $30,000 plus benefits and six months later jumps to $50,000 plus benefits, an increase of 67%, but 92% above his campaign promise. The council voted themselves a 67% increase plus a 100% increase for council president Lynch, just six months in office. Their raises reach a threshold that conveniently puts them in a retirement plan that will be subsidized by Vernon taxpayers.
This mayor and council raised our debt more than $8 million, increased our budget by $750,000, increased our employees, increased their own salaries by 67% and 100%, increased the cost of managing our town by 30% - ALL IN JUST SIX MONTHS!
I attended the October 22, 2012 council meeting and asked why this mayor, council, and clerk continue to defy the laws of the Open Public Records Act by refusing many requests for information in which the public is entitled. I reminded Councilman Dunn of his campaign promise that he would “cut up the credit cards of the sitting council”- REALLY? The previous council had a hiring freeze in place and scrutinized every expenditure before voting. I reminded him of the debt and spending he, the mayor and council are responsible for in just six months. He had no comment.
I told Councilman Rizzuto that he cannot listen to the residents without lashing out and telling them to go to the Board of Education with their complaints. REALLY? Wasn’t he on the B.O.E for about 12 years? My fear is he brought those same skills to the Municipal budget.
I reminded Councilman Lynch that I haven’t forgotten that he has been looking for a pay check from Vernon since 2009. He asked Ms. Carlton, the manager, to give him a paid position to oversee all four fire departments expenditures. She showed him the door. When Harry Shortway and I were on the council in 2010, Lynch came to us, shilling for the same position. He assured us that only he could keep the fire departments honest because he knew what they really needed and he would save us from being taken advantage of- if we paid him. Obviously, we didn’t agree with him. I am not surprised he has the audacity to not only raise his own salary 100%, but he is keenly interested in raising the mayor’s salary because he fantasizes about having that position one day.
The mayor and council in my opinion, have demonstrated by their false statements, targeting of private citizens, disrespectful behavior at council meetings, violations of the Open Public Records Act, questionable use of dedicated funds, reckless spending, increasing debt, hiring more employees, increasing salaries 10% to 100% in just six months, most definitely, in the very least, warrants a NO vote on the Nov. 6th ballot regarding their raises!
Former Vernon Mayor