Education employees, police officers and firefighters dominated the list of the highest-paid personnel on Westport's public payroll in 2012, according to records released this week by the town's Finance Department.
School system employees earned six of the 10 largest compensation packages and accounted for 31 of the 50 highest-paid public employees last year.
"The Board of Education is fortunate to have an incredibly capable and talented pool of employees," said Board of Education Chairwoman Elaine Whitney. "We get incredible value for the compensation we provide and it's important for us to remain competitive to attract the best talent, so we carefully look at pay scales in competing districts when we set our salary rates."
Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon was again the highest-paid public employee in Westport by a wide margin, earning about $288,000. In June 2011, the Board of Education approved a two-year contract extension for Landon, which raised his annual salary by 2 percent. His current contract runs until June 2014.
Landon has served as Westport's superintendent since 1999.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Nancy Harris was the second-highest-paid employee, with compensation of approximately $205,000, followed by Lisabeth Comm, the school district's director of secondary education, who was paid about $182,000.
Cynthia Gilchrest, director of elementary education, ranked No. 4, with pay of about $178,000.
Excluding Landon and Harris, all the education administrators on the top 50 list are union members, which entails that their compensation is determined by collective bargaining.
The preponderance of education employees on the top-earners list correlates with the large share of public spending allocated in Westport to the town's school district. Education operating expenditures account for more than half of total town spending this year, with about two-thirds of the school district's current-year operating budget designated for salaries. The compensation portion of education spending does not change much on a yearly basis because of contractual obligations.
With one exception, every municipal employee on the top 50 list is a police or fire official. Police Field Training Officer Anthony Prezioso was fifth-highest on the overall list -- and the top earner outside the school system -- with total pay of about $173,000. Prezioso had a 2012 base salary of approximately $77,000, but his compensation was boosted by about $79,000 in overtime and other additional pay.
Police Field Training Officer Howard Simpson was the second-highest-paid municipal employee and sixth-highest overall with total compensation of about $168,000. His earnings included about $79,000 in base salary and about $68,000 in overtime.
Police Officer Anthony Falbo ranked No. 7 overall, making about $161,000. That total included about $76,000 in base salary, approximately about $66,000 in outside jobs.
At No. 9 overall, police Lt. Arthur Belile was paid a total of approximately $159,000. His compensation included about $111,000 in base salary and about $37,000 in outside jobs; it did not include any overtime.
Police Chief Dale Call was paid a total of approximately $143,000, making him the 28th-highest-paid town employee. Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury was also paid about $143,000, ranking No. 30 overall. Their wages did not include any overtime pay.
Fire Lt. Matthew Cohen was the highest-paid member of the town's fire department last year, with total compensation of approximately $144,000. His wages included about $83,000 in base salary and approximately $49,000 in overtime. His compensation ranked No. 27 overall.
Prezioso, Simpson and Falbo belong to the town's police union, Local 2080, while Cohen is a member of Local 1081, the town's fire union. Their pay scales are determined by collective bargaining.
Total compensation for firefighters and police includes overtime; special assignments known as "outside jobs" for utilities, contractors and other private-sector parties, which are not billed to the town; and other compensation, including holiday pay, shift-differential pay, "master firefighter" and "master police officer" stipends, EMT stipends and taxable life insurance.
"The guys who are on that list are indicative of the guys in our department who've shown commitment in their service to the town, protecting lives and property in the town," said firefighter Nick Marsan, president of the Westport fire union Local 1081. "That compensation reflects lots of hours, nights, weekends, holidays, working during significant weather events like Sandy and spending a lot of time away from their families."
Overtime pay is not calculated into police officers' and firefighters' pension benefits.
"People have to understand that while the overtime figures may look astounding, they are probably saving the town money because we don't have to have additional people perform those jobs and therefore we don't have to have additional benefits as well," said Dick Lowenstein, chairman of the Representative Town Meeting's Employee Compensation Committee.
"The thing you have to remember is that there are not many jobs where you report to work in the morning and there's some probability you won't go home at night," he said. "And the fact that they can stay around in a job is a plus, because when you have experience, guys are less likely to get hurt or killed."
Officer Sean Kelley, president of the town's police union, could not be reached for comment.
Finance Director Gary Conrad was the only municipal employee outside of the Police and Fire departments to make the top 50. He ranked No. 19, with total compensation of approximately $148,000.
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff was paid approximately $101,000 last year. He was not among the town's 100-highest-paid public employees. His salary has been unchanged since 2003, according to Conrad.
Compensation for the 50 highest-paid town employees in 2012 totaled approximately $7.6 million, comprising about 4 percent of the approximately $188 million current-year budget approved by the RTM.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott
WESTPORT'S 50 HIGHEST PAID
The following list shows the total annual compensation for the 50 highest-paid public employees in Westport in 2012.
Total compensation for firefighters and police officers includes overtime; special assignments known as "outside jobs" for utilities, contractors and other private-sector parties, which are not billed to the town; and other compensation, including holiday pay, shift-differential pay, "master firefighter" and "master police officer" stipends, EMT stipends and taxable life insurance.
Elliott Landon, superintendent of schools: $287,899
Nancy Harris, assistant schools superintendent for business: $205,344
Lisabeth Comm, director of secondary education: $182,087
Cynthia Gilchrest, director of elementary education: $178,105
Anthony Prezioso, police field training officer: $173,463
Howard Simpson, police field training officer: $167,753
Anthony Falbo, police officer: $161,364
Kris Szabo, principal, Coleytown Middle School: $159,493
Arthur Belile, police lieutenant: $158,995
John Dodig, principal, Staples High School: $158,459
Susie Da Silva: principal, Kings Highway Elementary School: $156,238
James Farnen, assistant principal, Staples High School: $155,415
John Bayers, principal, Greens Farms Elementary School: $155,238
Natalie Carrignan, director of instructional technology: $155,238
Julie Droller: principal, Saugatuck Elementary School: $155,238
Michael Jones, principal, Long Lots Elementary School: $155,238
David Gusitsch, vice principal, Coleytown Middle School: $155,208
Janna Bell, principal, Coleytown Elementary School: $150,071
Gary Conrad, town finance director: $148,146
Michael Rizzo, director of pupil services: $146,941
Denise Emmerthal, assistant principal, Bedford Middle School: $145,415
Anthony Formato, assistant principal, Bedford Middle School: $145,415
Richard Franzis, assistant principal, Staples High School: $145,415
Patrick Micinilio, assistant principal, Staples High School: $145,415
Karyn Morgan, assistant principal, Staples High School: $145,415
Lauren Pitocco, vice principal, Coleytown Middle School: $145,415
Matthew Cohen, fire lieutenant: $144,363
Dale Call, police chief: $143,471
Michael Gudzik, police officer: $143,278
Andrew Kingsbury, fire chief: $143,090
Fotios Koskinas, deputy police chief: $141,615
Kenneth Lombardi, fire lieutenant: $141,512
George Taylor, police detective: $140,903
Elizabeth Messler, assistant principal, Coleytown Elementary School: $140,261
Ryan Paulsson, police sergeant: $139,576
Brett Kirby, fire lieutenant: $138,397
John Pitoniak, police lieutenant: $138,133
Anne Nesbitt, assistant principal, Kings Highway Elementary School: $137,446
Lynda Codeghini, pre-school coordinator, Stepping Stones Preschool: $137,441
James Lupo, fire lieutenant: $136, 779
Alfred Scheetz, science coordinator, grades 6-12: $136,541
Martin Lisevick, athletics director, Staples High School: $136,504
Barbara Beaman, assistant principal, Saugatuck Elementary School: $136,438
David Librandi, police field training officer: $136,213
Kevin Smith, police field training officer: $135,991
Frank Corbo, math coordinator, grades 6-12: $135,519
James D'Amico, chairman, Social Studies Department, grades 6-12: $135,519
Lorraine DiNapoli, coordinator of special education, Staples High School: $135,519
Elaine Schwartz, director of guidance, Staples High School: $135,519
David Winer, music supervisor, K-12: $135,519