Dalton Finance Committee Supports Higher Town Planner Pay / iBerkshires.com

Dalton Finance Committee Supports Higher Town Planner Pay / iBerkshires.com

DALTON, Mass. – After a lack of interest in the vacant city planner position, officials endorse a pay rise for the next city budget.

On Wednesday, the Finance Committee supported Town Manager Thomas Hutcheson’s motion to publish annual salaries between $56,000 and $62,000 — a few pay increments above the current $50,000 offer.

Dalton has not had a town planner since October and the vacancy has received only four responses, resulting in one qualified applicant.

“The position was really appreciated by the people of town and by everyone like me who would have to fill in if we didn’t have that position,” said Hutcheson.

“So very useful, had the potential to do quite a lot, and the more experience the person has, the better we can find a candidate, the better we can do that job.”

He said that this pay would also be more in line with the other salaries at City Hall. According to Salary.com, the average salary for a Massachusetts urban planner is about $60,200.

Though salaries can’t officially be increased until the annual township budget meeting, the money saved by the position’s months-long vacancy could likely fill the gap should a person be hired.

Committee member Tom Irwin strongly supported the proposal, noting that having a variety of candidates to choose from was crucial.

“I think another important thing to look at is that we’re going to see a significant need for a planner in the coming years when it comes to preparing for global climate change,” he added.

“And then there will be a bunch of additional projects, more grants, more complicated grants, more projects that need to be done in the city, and so on. If we can find someone a little more refined here rather than learn on the fly, it will move us now as we work off some of the backlog and it will prepare us well to move forward with some of the Green Committee type things that are expected.

This was supported by the Select Board last week, which recognized that while the city has currently budgeted for an entry-level planner, there are projects of scope and complexity that may require more experience.

Qualifications sought, as per the current job posting, are a bachelor’s degree in municipal planning or a related discipline and three years of urban planning experience or comparable municipal experience. A master’s degree and one year of relevant experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience also apply.

The office is responsible for technical and administrative work in professional community planning and development; Assisted several city governments in reviewing and evaluating specific projects; developing planning approaches and community development projects to stimulate and support growth and development in the city and related works; and managing complex administrative, community development and planning activities using extensive knowledge of specialized planning and development processes.

Hutcheson proposed a base pay of $56,000 for a 36-hour week, which equates to $62,000 if the person works 40 hours.

Chairman William Drosehn III felt the flexible pay schedules were complicated and questioned whether it shouldn’t just be a 40-hour week, recognizing the position required attending evening meetings.

“It just seems so convoluted to me, these 36 hours with a four hour contingency and so on and so on and so forth. It just seems so blessed and twisted to me,” he said.

“That could be why we’re not getting people because they don’t understand the complicated system that we have. I can tell you, when I’m looking for a job, I want to know what I’m getting paid and when I’m going to get paid.”

Working 40 hours is an incentive but not a requirement, Hutcheson said, which he thinks is attractive.

tags: municipal planning,

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