Acting Town Administrator Gets Bonus on Split Vote

While Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau will receive his annual performance bonus, the Derry Town Council stopped short of granting him a temporary raise until a permanent Administrator is found.
Budreau, also Human Resources Director for the town, stepped into the Administrator position this July when then-Administrator John Anderson was placed on administrative leave. He has been performing the dual roles ever since.

The Council discussed the performance bonus in a nonpublic session at the Nov. 5 meeting. The minutes were not sealed.
According to a memo from Budreau dated Oct. 29, once employees not represented by collective bargaining units reach the top of their salary grade, they are awarded a lump sum bonus on their employment anniversary date. Budreau told the Council that Anderson in the past reminded them of the bonus, but as he is gone, he wrote, “I believe it’s proper to award me a bonus but, alas, no John to authorize it.”
Budreau has worked for the town since 2004 and has received bonuses ranging from 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent. He requested a 4.8 bonus based on his salary, which is over $100,000.
The Council reviewed the request in nonpublic session under RSA 91A-3, II (a), the “dismissal, promotion or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a public meeting and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.”
Councilor Brad Benson was not present for the portion of the meeting involving the nonpublic. Councilors attending the nonpublic session were Chairman Michael Fairbanks, Neil Wetherbee, Phyllis Katsakiores, Thomas Cardon, Al Dimmock and Mark Osborne.
According to the minutes, Fairbanks explained the performance bonus system. Wetherbee made a motion to approve the bonus, noting how hard Budreau works on behalf of the town.
The minutes state that Osborne objected. While he found no fault with Budreau’s performance, he said such bonuses were not common in other areas of government or in the private sector. He asked Fairbanks if he were familiar with such bonuses in his industry, and Fairbanks said no.
Cardon, who works in vocational education in Massachusetts, said there was no bonus system with his school district and that raises are around 1 percent to 2 percent.
Osborne said whether it was bonuses or raises, “The taxpayers of Derry have shown disapproval of such pay schedules for some time.”
A vote was taken. Osborne and Dimmock voted no, with the other four Councilors voting in favor of the performance bonus. The motion passed.
Another motion, by Wetherbee, would also have given Budreau a 4 percent raise until a permanent Administrator is found. There was no second, and the motion died.
Reached by phone after the meeting, Fairbanks said the performance bonus has been a common practice for about 10 years to town employees who have reached the top of the salary range. Budreau is not represented by any collective bargaining unit, Fairbanks said, and “This basically is his raise.”
Budreau’s performance bonus was given in the middle of the fiscal year because it is connected to his hire date, Fairbanks said.
As administrator, Anderson did not get his raise in the middle of the year, Fairbanks said, adding, “His was tied to the budget.”
The money for Budreau’s performance bonus is already in the budget under the administrative line, Fairbanks said.
In a phone interview, Dimmock said, “I have nothing against Larry. I just didn’t want to spend the money,
“We are trying to hold the line,” Dimmock explained. “We are going into budget season. Everything is going to be a ‘no’ – I don’t want to spend any extra money.”
Osborne too said his vote was not a vote against Budreau. “I am satisfied with his performance,” Osborne said.
He’s not saying that people shouldn’t get bonuses, Osborne added. But people in the private sector aren’t getting 4 percent bonuses or the 4 percent temporary raise suggested by Wetherbee.
“It’s a lot to ask now,” Osborne said.
Osborne ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism and said his response to the bonus was part of that. “It is easy for people in government to spend other people’s money,” he observed.
But it’s not what his constituents wanted or continue to want, he added, saying, “They ask me, ‘Can you stop the bleeding?””