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Tops on public payroll: Landon leads list of Westport's highest paid

Updated 1:27 pm, Thursday, February 14, 2013

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  • Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon was the highest-paid public employee in Westport in 2012 with a salary of approximately $288,000. Photo: Paul Schott / Westport News
    Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon was the highest-paid public employee in Westport in 2012 with a salary of approximately $288,000. Photo: Paul Schott

 

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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.

Coleytown Middle School Principal Kris Szabo was No. 8 with compensation of approximately $159,000. Staples High School Principal John Dodig was paid about $158,000, ranking No. 10 overall.

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.

John Pincavage, chairman of the Board of Finance's Public Safety Committee, also argued that police and firefighter compensation represented a fair deal for the town.

"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.

pschott@bcnnew.com; 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