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Moccia denies taking pay raise – oops

NORWALK, Conn. – Among thoughtful answers about education, development and crime, Mayor Richard Moccia slipped in this pants-igniter Wednesday night at a candidates forum in East Norwalk.

“I didn’t take the pay raise. I turned it down,” he said.

“The” pay raise in question has not yet become available. He did, in fact, take pay raises in the past – he’s been mayor for nearly eight years – but the pay hike that was being discussed Wednesday night goes to the mayor who is elected – or re-elected – Nov. 5. Moccia has danced around the issue of whether he would take it.

The Common Council voted in February to grant a pay raise to the next mayor, boosting the salary 21.5 percent, from $113,963 as of Jan. 1, 2012, to $138,465 as of Jan. 1, 2014 — a raise of $24,502.

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia listens to former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling Wednesday night.
Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia listens to former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling Wednesday night.

Moccia said in June that the money is in the 2013-2014 budget as a contingency to cover that raise – if necessary.

“In November, whoever the mayor is can make the decision whether they want to ask for the money to fund the pay raise,” he said.

Multiple Internet searches show no public statements saying he will not take the raise.

The topic came up at Wednesday’s meet-the-candidate event organized by the East Norwalk Association.

Moccia’s challenger, former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, said one of the first things he would do if he becomes mayor is to ask the Common Council to rescind the raise.

“In this economy, I thought that was inappropriate,” he said of the council vote. “I thought that was not the right thing to do.”

Moccia smiled and shook his head when Rilling mentioned it.

The mayor has said in the past that he declined pay raises when the ordinance employees were taking furloughs but has gotten pay hikes since then.

Moccia is listed in documents as making in $113,963 in 2012, a significant jump from the $99,616 he is listed as making in 2010. His salary increased more than 14 percent from 2010 to 2012 – in pure dollars, an average of $4,773 per year.

“You can’t get a raise while you’re in office,” Moccia said in June. “I got a raise that went into effect in January, after I was elected. You can’t get two raises while you’re in office, so it was the new salary set for whoever was elected. I happen to have been elected; in January I got the raise. But I didn’t get another raise in the second year.”

That comment was in response to statements made by Norwalk letter writer Peter Berman, who said that Moccia had promised not to take the new raise.

Moccia expressed irritation at that.

“I said to (Berman), I did not take it,” he said. “Which is true — the money did not go into the budget. Because I said, quite honestly, ‘Let’s see what happens in November. Then whoever who is in office, whether it’s me or someone, can make the decision about their pay.’”

Comments

8 responses to “Moccia denies taking pay raise – oops”

  1. Mike Mushak

    That raise would have more than covered the cost of the independent traffic study I repeatedly asked for on the Zoning Commission for the BJs application, as recommended in the $500k Transportation Management Plan in force since last year. The GOP Chair Emily Wilson refused to allow a vote for that study which I had requested, by not putting it on the agenda in August’s hearing.
    .
    GOP Commissioners also said we couldn’t afford it, even though we raised our fines 4 years ago specifically to help pay for experts, and by my estimation there should be over $100k somewhere to do this since we never hire experts even though I have requested it on other occasions. So, either way, using the mayor’s raise which Harry Rillung has said he would refuse to take, or using the mysterious fund from our zoning fines, we have the money to do the due diligence on BJs that Norwalk taxpayers deserve to protect their public health and safety.

  2. Don’t Panic

    Hey, BET.
    .
    Where did those extra dollars go from the fines?

  3. JustAsking

    The Mayor’s salary should be comensurate with the responsibility of the office. Norwalk is a city not a town with 85,000 people and a budget of aprox. $300M. The mayor should be paid a competitive salary in line with other cities. Every year when the list is published of the top 100 earners in the City, the Mayor’s salary doesn’t even make the cut. The Common Council did the right thing in approving the raise to $138K. There are mismanaged non-profits, that have been written about here, paying their CEO’s in excess of $130K.

  4. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Yeah, we need an independent traffic study as long as it promotes the outlawing of cars on city streets, which were obviously intended for bicycles only. And we can definitely get this done by berating our colleagues with limited basis or facts in public forums. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  5. Anna Duleep

    I voted against this generous pay raise. In general, it would be nice to have a salary commensurate with the responsibilities of running this city. It would be nice to have Common Council stipends that are greater than they were seventy years ago. I’m sure our Board of Education members would appreciate a stipend in any amount to defray the costs of printing, gas, babysitters, etc.
    But some of the arguments for this particular raise were simply insufficient. For example, some argued that the Mayor was somehow at a disadvantage managing department heads who make more money than he does. I don’t think taxpayers see raising the Mayor’s salary as a better solution than lowering the pay of certain department heads! The other major argument -that we need a higher salary to attract better candidates for Mayor- has some merit. However, in a year when five men, including the incumbent, sought this job, we did not need to give the Mayor a raise in excess of 20%! That’s why I voted against it.

  6. Piberman

    As of July 2012 Mayor Pavia of Stamford earned $150,000. The real issue is not so much the salary of Norwalk’s mayor the whether its necessary to pay 150,000 dollar salaries to legions of Norwalk’s Department Heads and Administrators. Reportedly Norwalk administrators and Department Heads are among the very highest paid in CT and paid equal to the Governors salary -$150,000. Since few Norwalk Department Heads or Administrators are competed away to serve in other cities there are some doubts. As our Chief Elected Official there are good reasons to pay our mayor more than our administrators and a department heads. But we should insist that our City employees not be the highest paid in the state. Under the current arrangements there is no expectation that City officials will curb municipal salaries. Discussion of the mayor’s salary raises discussion of excessive municipal salaries well above the affordability of our City where median household incomes are just $72,000.

  7. M Allen

    Anna Duleep: “I don’t think taxpayers see raising the Mayor’s salary as a better solution than lowering the pay of certain department heads!”

    Are you suggesting lowering the salaries of department heads? And would that also entail reducing the salaries of the employees beneath them? Just step everyone down, right? Maakes sense because if you don’t want department heads making more than the mayor, then you probably don’t want employees making more than department heads. See, Democrats can cut salaries.

  8. Norwalk Lifer

    This is a lot of stuff and nonsense, Moccia will not be making 138K next year, he will be voted out.

    And there should be a cap on salaries; we are not in the business to generate revenue for city workers, we are in the business of hiring the right workers to generate and best managed the trust given them by the tax payers of Norwalk.

    Nixon tied CEO pay to stock price, do you all remember that? and of course, he also appointed Non political inspector generals for each department in government, those positions were not political positions or payback like ambassadorships; they were independent auditors of each departments means and methods and subsequent adherence to. Please tell me why the Mayor of this city, should see an out of family raise, when the obvious points to a low grade in management?

    And insofar as Stamford is concerned, the writer leaves out one fact that is quite significant, MSN money just rated Stamford Connecticut one of the top ten places in the US where the cost of living is not commensurate with the rest of the country, I believe Stamford ranks third behind New York City. Oh, by the way, Stamford’s state of union, given it’s heavy financial market niche, is doing quite nicely.

    Regards
    Norwalk Lifer

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