[Note: The deputy director salary has been updated in this article to reflect the selectmen’s approved figure.]
The town’s head of emergency management—a volunteer role long held by Mike Handler—is now a paid position, following a Board of Selectmen vote Tuesday.
The elected body voted 3-0 to approve salaries of $20,000 and $15,000 for the director and deputy director of emergency management, respectively.
Federal funds distributed through the state will cover $10,188 of the total cost, officials said.
“We thought it was 50% but it turns out that they do it based upon population, so [it’s] somewhat less than 50%,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during the regular meeting, held via videoconference.
Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted in favor of the part-time salaries.
“The EOC [Emergency Operations Center] job has always been time-consuming during those periods of storms and blizzards and such, but given COVID which unfortunately will be with us—I don’t know, forever—these two jobs have become even more important than ever, so I think that having salary and recognizing the overwhelming amount of time the job requires these days is appropriate,” Williams said.
Handler oversaw the EOC for years prior to his June 3 ouster during the first weeks of COVID-19 virus public health emergency. Since the divisive move, Moynihan himself has been conducting town-wide emergency outcalls related to both the pandemic and a storm knocked out power to more than three-quarters of the town.
Moynihan said during the meeting that the leadership positions in emergency management “are actually full-time throughout the year jobs because there’s a lot of planning involved.”
“There is a lot to do throughout the year, so it’s not just the intense hours which turned out to be the case in—I can’t even say the name anymore [Isaias]—the last storm,” he said.
The selectmen asked whether the $10,000 from the government was for each position (no that’s in total), and whether the funding represented federal or state money (federal).
Earlier this month, the selectmen appointed Russ Kimes and Phil Sheibley as director and deputy director of emergency management, respectively. It wasn’t immediately clear why the salaries weren’t introduced at that time.