The New Haven Board of Alders leadership has launched an investigation into the pay increases Mayor Toni Harp gave to 37 executive management and confidential non-union employees.
“We’re shocked,” one alder who asked to remain anonymous said.
According to the payroll records obtained by NBC Connecticut from a local government source, the pay increases range from as little as 2 percent to as high as almost 28 percent for an executive administrative assistant.
“Wow, I didn’t know that, that’s too much,” New Haven resident Annette Lilly said.
The top paid employee on the list is the city’s attorney who will now take home $161,250 followed by the city’s health director who will make $155,875.
A majority of the raises for the 37 employees are 7.5 percent. Seven of the salary bumps are greater than $10,000.
“Well, I think she shouldn’t have done that because our taxes went up so high that a lot of people can’t pay for their cars and everything,” said Lilly, who just got her car tax bill in the mail. "(Mayor Harp) did the wrong thing at the wrong time.”
On Monday at the New Haven Fire Academy graduation, NBC Connecticut asked Harp how she could justify the raises following a big tax increase on the residents.
“Well, one has nothing to do with the other,” Harp said. “I think it is fallacious to connect the two, our budget went up 1.5 percent, the tax increase has to do with revenues that we needed."
Harp has told NBC Connecticut she proposed the 11 percent property tax increase, which the Board of Alders approved, in order to maintain city services while making up for less money from the state.
The Board of Alders leadership released the following statement to NBC Connecticut:
"In light of the unexpected increases of the Mayoral Executive Management and Confidential Employees that should have been communicated to the Board of Alders, the budgetary authority of the city pursuant to the Charter and the Code of Ordinances, we have begun a formal investigation. As a board we take our responsibility to our constituents very seriously and we will be taking appropriate steps based on our findings."
On Monday, NBC Connecticut pressed Harp on why taxpayers might not be too pleased with the pay bumps for some of the city’s highest paid employees.
“Well you know most taxpayers work in a position where they get a raise every year,” she said. “My executive staff, those who started with me haven’t gotten a raise in nearly five years, I don’t think they’d wait that long for a raise.”
The City’s Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson got a $9,000 raise even though he has been recently placed on administrative leave for three weeks.
NBC Connecticut will keep you posted on the findings of the alders’ investigation.