Terrible Time For Big Raises At Hartford City Hall
Pedro Segarra: Despite a $56.2 million deficit, Hartford's mayor gets generous
Hartford Courant Editorial
April 16, 2012
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has done a good job since taking over for the disgraced Eddie Perez two years ago and winning a four-year term in his own right in the 2011 municipal elections. He's competent, popular, honest and engaged.
But he has a tin ear when it comes to handing out big raises to top city officials at a time when Hartford, a poor city, is still wrestling with the recession and city hall is facing a projected $56.2 million budget deficit in the coming fiscal year.
How can he ask for "shared sacrifice" from city workers and taxpayers to erase the deficit when some of those closest to him are sharing in extra icing on the cake?
This was not a good time for big raises, Mr. Mayor.
Yet in recent months he gave department heads salary increases of 3 to 4 percent. He gave 5 percent raises to David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, and to Saundra Kee Borges, the city's corporation counsel.
In addition to her six-figure salary, Ms. Kee Borges takes home a $72,000 annual pension, earned from past service as city manager among other posts.
Mr. Segarra also gave himself a $7,650 annual pay hike — up to $146, 779, the same as a Superior Court judge, as set in the city charter — effective in January. The mayor said he would donate his raise to various city organizations. That's a generous impulse, but he didn't have to take the raise.
He also gave his chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, a $20,000 annual raise, to roughly $115,000, explaining that he thought Mr. Kupiec, 29, should be paid as much as Matthew Hennessy, Mr. Perez's chief of staff. That's flawed reasoning; Mr. Hennessy was paid too much.
The mayor and his chief of staff each got a city car, too, but Mr. Kupiec returned his.
Mr. Segarra defended the raises to the non-union employees under his supervision by arguing that they have done a good job and in some cases have taken on more duties. He also points out that money was saved in departmental budgets to allow for the raises.
That will be a hard sell to property owners facing tax increases or employees who lose their jobs to balance the budget.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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