Selectmen Preview FY 17 Salary Bylaw

By Debra Parkurst

SelectmenOn Monday, January 11, the Bedford Selectmen reviewed a preliminary proposal for the FY 17 Salary Bylaw.  The Selectmen will hold a public hearing for the Salary Bylaw on January 25 prior to its publication in the Annual Town Meeting Warrant.  The voters at Town Meeting vote annually to approve this bylaw, which sets in place salary ranges for employees of the Town not covered in collective bargaining contracts.

Human Resources Analyst Sarah Buhler reported that she had reviewed the Massachusetts Municipal Association salary database for comparison with neighboring and similar towns to Bedford and found that Bedford’s municipal salary levels were well below the average, particularly at the minimum levels for each grade.

Town Manager Rick Reed recommended increasing all levels by six percent for FY 16, with a further increase of two percent for FY 17.  This would adjust the minimum and maximum ranges.   He noted that there are no automatic step increases for administrative staff, although increases may be recommended based on performance review.   However, there is typically an across the board adjustment up from year to year; last year that adjustment was just over two percent.

Reed strongly suggested adjusting the Salary Bylaw upwards for this year because he is concerned about competitiveness in the job market, adding that he is open to other percentages.  Reed particularly noted the need to do a more “in-depth position by position analysis” in the future.

Noting that the descriptions and duties of positions vary greatly from town to town, the Selectmen agreed to use average salaries ranges to further the discussion.  The discussion recognized that Bedford was further behind on the lower end of these salary ranges.

The Selectmen agreed that a revised bylaw could raise the current (FY 16) minimum salaries in the range by six percent with a two percent increase for FY 17, while the maximum in the range could rise by three and one-half percent with a two percent increase for FY 17.  This would make Bedford more competitive for the time being.  The Selectmen and Administration agreed that a more comprehensive look at job functions and salaries should be available for review in the fall of 2016.

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