CHESHIRE — School leaders and police officers constituted the top earners in town last year.
School Superintendent Jeff Solan took the top slot with salary and benefits totaling $191,480.
He was followed by Master Police Sergeant Robert Regan who earned $174,507 with base pay and private duty or overtime. Regan’s base pay is $88,000.
Former town manager Michael Milone was the only employee who was in the top ten and not a police department member or Board of Education worker. He earned $154,297.
Cheshire Finance Director James Jaskot said special duty, which is paid for by contractors required to hire police on projects, and overtime account for the bulk of the pay for high police department earners. This year, salaries were slightly higher than normal since officers received pay under a union contract negotiated after it had expired.
“They got a retroactive payment for past service,” Jaskot said.
Base pay for the five officers on the list range from two-thirds to nearly a half of their total earnings.
School officials on the list include the principal of Cheshire High School Mary Gadd, former assistant superintendent Shawn Parkhurst and Chief Operations Officer Vincent Masciana.
Solan said the town gets great value from investing in its education leadership team and district staff.
“We are fortunate in Cheshire to have strong educational leaders who are experienced, dedicated, passionate, and talented,” he said.
Board of Education Chairwoman Kathryn Hallen said those paid the most in the school district are those with the most responsibility. Wages are set with the pay of comparable jobs in mind and Cheshire is in the mid-range for towns of its size.
She also said the school board needs to be mindful of what other school district.
“We are always trying to find the best people we can find for the position that we have open,” Hallen said. “The market is what the market is.”
Hallen said it’s a huge job managing a $70 million budget, hundreds of employees and thousands of students and parents.
“I think we have great staff. I think our superintendent is doing a great job and I think the people below him are all really strong,” she said. “Sometimes you have to pay for that expertise.”
Tom Ruocco, a Republican Town Council member, said the salaries illustrated the “unsustainable” cost of government.
“If it is going to be sustained, it’s going to be on the backs of taxpayers and people are going to be moving out,” he said. “If people want to know why their taxes are going up every year, there’s ten reasons.”
Cheshire’s top ten earners in 2018
1.Superintendent Jeffry Solan: $191,480
2.Master Police Officer Robert Regan:174,507
3.Schools Chief Operating Officer Vincent Masciana: $170,442
4.Assistant Superintendent Shawn Parkhurst: $169,997
5.Police Sergeant Brian Schechter: $165,014
6.Police Sergeant Vincienzo Balcastro: $160,930
7.Police Sergeant Steven Jester: $158,881
8.Cheshire High School Principal Mary Gadd: $157,525
9.Police Lieutenant Frederick Jortner, Jr.: $155,377
10.Town Manager Michael Milone: $154,297