Westport first selectman gets a salary bump
WESTPORT — The first selectman will soon see a salary increase — the first in 16 years.
The Representative Town Meeting voted 32-0 with one abstention for a 3.4% cost of living increase for the first selectman, translating to a $3,450 bump from $101,474 to $104,925 annually, starting Nov. 21.
First Selectman Jim Marpe, who was in attendance for the meeting, recused himself while the item was discussed and voted on.
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“We haven’t done anything to this position and salary since July 2003,” said RTM Compensation Committee Chair Lou Mall. That year, the yearly salary increased from $99,000 to $101.475. For context, Mall said if the salary increases of town employees from 2003 to 2019 were applied to the first selectman’s, office it would be at $154,259.
“This salary has fallen further and further behind,” Mall said, noting the raise could be approved without the recommendation of the Board of Finance.
RTM member Seth Braunstein said Westport’s first selectman pay was significantly lower than other top offices in Fairfield County, with the average salary for leaders in Darien, Ridgefield and New Canaan being approximately $139,000.
The first selectman’s salary ranked 30 out of the 38 top leadership positions in town.
“For further context, this comparison with direct reports was only looking at a subset of town employees and didn’t consider the salaries of those in leadership positions in our schools,” Braunstein said, “which quite frankly would’ve placed the first selectman’s salary at an even more distant comparison point relative to leadership roles in the town.”
Don Bergmann, a Westport resident and former RTM member, said many who run for the office have a tendency to have independent or second sources of income.
“I think that’s not the right way. I think we should come up with a salary that’s appropriate,” he said, adding this could draw more interest, as well as younger candidates.
“As we all know sometimes mayors, whether they’re from Indiana or New York City, or first selectman go on to famous levels,” Bergmann said.