A local fire department is making changes after NBC Connecticut Investigates began looking at what some might consider generous perks for its commissioners.
Before our first report two years ago, Blue Hills Fire District commissioners in Bloomfield could receive:
- a $5,000 annual stipend
- up to a $6,000 performance bonus
- up to a $2,000 holiday bonus
- a full tank of gas per week
- a district credit card
The bonuses went away after our first set of stories. Now commissioners have eliminated some of the last of the perks.
They agreed to get rid of the weekly free tank of gas they are eligible to receive.
Commission chair Ariel Marzouca-Jaunai said before the unanimous 3-0 vote “It has become a big distraction for us and we just want to be finished with it."
They also announced they will no longer each be allowed to have a district credit card at their disposal, another topic of criticism. Instead, there will be just one credit card for all fire district purchases.
Taxpayers who have complained about the perks fire commissioners have received in the past gave them equal credit for now eliminating most of them.
Former Bloomfield mayor Joan Gamble told NBC Connecticut Investigates, “I think it's heading in the right direction. They didn't need to have some of these perks."
Each fire commissioner still does receive a $5,000 annual stipend.
While not unheard of in Connecticut, fire chiefs have told NBC Connecticut Investigates that amount is on the high end of the scale.
The Blue Hills Fire District also revealed it's part-time finance director has decided to discontinue receiving his health benefits on the district plan, which cost the district thousands of dollars each year. Critics still say his $38,000 annual salary is too high.
The treasurer at the fire department serving the other half of the town of Bloomfield receives a fraction of that amount.