Norwalk ordinance employee raise range set

Personnel Director Emmet Hibson speaks to Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) Tuesday in City Hall.
Personnel Director Emmet Hibson speaks to Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) Tuesday in City Hall.

This story was updated at 9:50 p.m. to remove ambiguous language regarding the bonus pool and the raise schedule.
NORWALK, Conn. – Potential raises  for Norwalk department heads and other selected city employees were approved Tuesday by the Common Council, after a brief discussion about performance evaluations.

The latest merit matrix for Norwalk ordinance employees was approved unanimously.

Also, as part of the approval, Mayor Harry Rilling will be able to OK bonuses for up to 18 employees from a $35,000 pool set aside as a reserve, Personnel Director Emmet Hibson said.

“My understanding is that in the past, (there was) pretty much a blanket bonus even though the mayor does have discretion to spend it, pretty evenly distributed amongst all the members there,” Hibson said. The $35,000 allocated in 2013-14 has been used up, he said.

Ordinance employees have been described in the past as six department heads and some clerical and general support employees. Four Corporation Counsel lawyers have since unionized and are no longer ordinance employees.

The approval of a merit matrix is usually done in late fall or early winter but was delayed this time around because former Personnel Director James Haselkamp resigned, according to minutes of the May 19 Personnel Committee meeting.

Finance Committee Chairman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) questioned Hibson about the standards set for raises.

“Theoretically somebody with a ‘needs improvement’ could have gotten at least a small raise?” Kimmel asked.

“Theoretically, however I did review for purposes of providing the mayor with what he has to do going forward the previous evaluations and there was nobody who was in the needs improvement or unsatisfactory category,” Hibson said.

Kimmel wanted to know if anyone was marked “meets expectations,” which he described as a “C” grade.  Hibson said he would get back to Kimmel on that one.

“A number of years ago” everybody was marked “exceeded expectations” and “evaluations were pretty much worthless,” Kimmel said.

“I would like to know if we have anybody who is ‘only’ meeting expectations,” Kimmel said. “Often when evaluations don’t reflect reality you can get backed into a corner if you ever find yourself in one of those delicate situations where lawyers are sitting across from you. Isn’t that true? If the evaluations are not realistic.”

Hibson agreed. “There is always concern whenever there is a discharge,” he said.

The merit matrix was changed at the May 19 meeting to give a 3 percent raise to anyone marked “superior” with an overall score of 90-100, according to the minutes. It had been 2 percent.

“Exceeds expectations” will get a 2 percent raise, as it did last year. “Meets expectations” gets a 1 percent raise.

Council President Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said he calls the $35,000 bonus money an “incentive pool because it is supposed to be a reward for somebody who is doing outstanding service.”

He specifically mentioned city lawyers being rewarded for saving the city large sums of money with aggressive defenses of lawsuits.

The lawyers were allowed to unionize under an agreement made by former Mayor Richard Moccia on his last day in office.

Hempstead reviewed the history of the merit matrix. Way back when, the council decided who would get raises, he said. Former Mayor Alex Knopp moved to get accountability, he said. There was a “very complicated formula” that has been simplified, he said.

“The matrix before last term was anywhere between 1 and 5 percent. So it was discretionary of a pretty large number,” Hempstead said. “…This has been a long evolved process to simplify this. The ranges have been significantly dropped.”


5 responses to “Norwalk ordinance employee raise range set”

  1. LWitherspoon

    @Nancy Chapman
    Are these bonuses, raises, or both? The top of the article mentions bonuses but then it mentions 1-2% raises.
    Who does the performance evaluations?

  2. Peter Parker

    Raises? In this economic climate, there shouldn’t be any raises. Private industry is not giving any raises and neither should the City. As long as the taxpayers are paying increased taxes raises or bonuses for City employees should be frozen. What nerve! That $35,000. could be better spent! Let’s start with roads and sidewalks.

  3. anon

    Total agreement with above posters. Who is getting raises in this economy? Higher taxes and not a thing to show for it.

  4. Bill

    $35,000 for overpaid city employees but we can’t spend a fraction of that on programs for the youth in south Norwalk?

  5. Or youth programs for any other kid in the city OTHER than the over programmed kids in south norwalk?

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