By Nancy Guenther Chapman
NORWALK, Conn. – Many Norwalk city employees got raises over the past two years, but few got as big a percentage raise as Mayor Richard Moccia.
Moccia is listed as making in $113,963 in 2012, a significant jump from the $99,616 he is listed as making in 2010, according to documents provided by city Comptroller Frederick Gilden.
The documents listing the salaries for all city employees in 2010, 2011 and 2012 are attached below.
Moccia, along with Town Clerk Rick McQuaid, is an ordinance employee. A maximum 2.75 percent pay raise was authorized in May 2011 for the ordinance employees. Most were given pay raises of well under 2 percent in 2012.
Common Councilman Michael Geake (U-District B) said in an email, “The mayor’s pay is a percentage of the finance director’s maximum. When we authorized the changes to the ordinance positions earlier in the year, his was adjusted with everyone else’s.”
Moccia made $107,745 in 2011. Gilden said that included a retroactive payment for 2010. He did not say how much that was. Moccia commented during his 2011 campaign for re-election that he had not taken a pay raise in 2010.
The 2012 payment is the mayor’s real salary – no retroactive payments – Gilden said, adding that he thinks there is something in the works at the council to give the mayor another raise. He said to check with City Clerk Erin Halsey. Halsey did not return a late afternoon email asking for comment. The mayor did not respond to a Monday morning email asking for comment.
Moccia’s salary increased more than 14 percent from 2010 to 2012 – in pure dollars, an average of $4,773 per year.
Moccia, 69, has not announced whether he will run again. His pension will be based on his salary at the time of his departure.
Many people think the mayor is underpaid, said Jackie Lightfield of Norwalk 2.0.
“I think most people recognized that the mayor’s salary and term have been in need of raising,” she said in an email, adding that she thought the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce did a survey.
Councilman Carvin Hillard (D-District B) commented in December 2010 that the mayor should be the highest paid employee in the city as he has the greatest responsibility, according to personnel committee minutes.
Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) didn’t think it appropriate to comment because he has expressed an interest in running for mayor, but former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, who ran against Moccia in 2011 and unequivocally states that he wants to run again, did not hesitate.
“In today’s economy, it’s hard to justify pay raises for any public sector employees, but that being said, the mayor is Norwalk’s top elected official and is the one person most responsible for the well-being of our community, either directly or indirectly,” he said in an email. “Also, consideration is made for the fact that as an elected position, one’s salary is frozen for the duration of their term. No cost of living increase is given mid-term on a yearly basis. While the salary cannot compete with private sector salaries and there is little job security, it’s important that the position pay enough to attract qualified candidates. We wouldn’t want a situation where the only candidates are retirees or the independently wealthy.”
Garfunkel continued, “The job of managing a city of close to 85,000 residents is a challenging position. As with any other expense the city is burdened with, I believe the real question here should be. ‘Are the taxpayers of Norwalk getting the best value for every dollar spent?’”