Hartford Facing Deficit, But Mayor, Chief Of Staff Get Pay Raises
By JENNA CARLESSO
April 02, 2012
HARTFORD —— The city may be facing a budget deficit of $56.2 million, but Mayor Pedro Segarra has gotten a $7,650 pay increase and he gave his chief of staff a raise of about $20,000.
Both raises were effective in January.
Segarra's annual salary increased to $146,779, up from $139,128. The salary for his chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, 29, rose to roughly $115,000, up from $95,000.
The mayor's salary is set by the city charter as equal to that of a state Superior Court judge. Kupiec's pay increase was decided by Segarra.
Segarra defended the pay increases Monday, saying Kupiec had earned the raise and that he was only paying him as much as Matthew Hennessy, the chief of staff for former Mayor Eddie Perez.
"I didn't feel comfortable paying Jared $115,000 [initially] because I didn't know what type of work he was going to produce. I would not have brought him up to what the previous chief of staff was making if he hadn't been doing his job effectively," Segarra said Monday. "I knew that potentially I would need to do the raise; either that or get myself another chief of staff."
Kupiec did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
As for his own raise, Segarra said he plans to donate the money to various city groups and organizations.
"It enables me to have more money to donate, and that's what I'm doing with my raise," Segarra said. "I donate to a lot of different organizations. Whatever money I get, I'm not going to donate it back to the city budget. I'm not going to take my salary and give it to another department that is going over budget."
He said he has cut more than 40 percent of the funds from the mayor's office budget since he took over the city's top job in 2010.
City officials have been discussing how to close the projected deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year and have talked about the possibility of furloughs, union givebacks and layoffs next year.
Council President Shawn Wooden criticized the raises Monday.
"I'm obviously disappointed to see raises like this when so many people in the city are struggling and the city faces such a large deficit," Wooden said. "I think the timing of this undermines a message of shared sacrifice."
Officials have said the deficit was due in large part to property revaluation. The city will take in about $35 million less in property tax revenue because of a decrease in market values and the elimination of a surcharge on commercial properties. It will also see expenses rise about $21 million from increased payroll, pension contributions and school expenditures.
At a budget workshop las week, council members considered numerous options for offsetting the shortfall, including furloughts, union givebacks and even layoffs. They also discussed eliminating some of the city's 108 vacant jobs.
In addition, members said they were considering raising the city's tax rate, currently 71.79 mills. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The raises also came as the Hartford Police Union was working under a contract that expired in 2010. Sources have said the city is close to new labor agreement with the police union.
In December, Segarra vetoed a $10,000 pay raise for city Treasurer Adam Cloud that was set to take effect Jan. 1. The raise would have brought Cloud's annual salary to $150,000, up from $140,000.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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