Selectmen justify Police chief’s new salary as below area average

Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen ratified a vote to approve Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus’ 15% raise. But first, selectmen shared their justification. Among their points were comparisons to other towns’ averages, lack of collected benefits, and performance.

Co-Chair Paul Cimino clarified that Chief Paulhus’ original salary reflected that he was hired “amid a fair amount of controversy” and “was unproven to us in town”. According to just-released minutes, he started at $10,000 below the previous chief.*

At the time there was a vocal contingent in town pushing for the promotion of Lt. Sean James. Paulhus was voted in 2-1, with now-Chair John Rooney as the dissenting vote.

Cimino said that Paulhus has since proven to be “every bit of what we hope for in a chief”.

The minutes from last year confirm Cimino’s assertion that 2 votes objecting to last year’s 4.3% raise were in favor of more. In fact, Rooney and Selectman Kolenda had sought to double the raise, as requested by the chief. 

In contrast, then-selectman Bill Boland commented that the approved $5,000 raise signaled they were very happy, was an unusual increase, and not expected to occur annually.

This year’s vote was unanimous to raise the salary $18,000. Cimino called it “commensurate with his performance and the trajectory of where he ought to be in view of the market”.

Selectman Brian Shea said the chief presented an excellent case that his new salary will still be below the full average of surrounding Towns. Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf pointed out that the chief’s contract doesn’t entitle him to automatic increases to that salary. Both praised the chief for his performance and active presence at meetings and in the community.

Cimino said that Paulhus doesn’t collect health insurance. And Town Administrator Mark Purple confirmed by email today that Paulhus doesn’t draw any Town benefits.

Responding to questions by Advisory Committee member Sam Stivers, Cimino said that he doesn’t expect future jumps in salary like this one.

The 3-0 vote this week was used to make public a unanimous 5-0 vote in last month’s closed Executive Session. (Rooney and Kolenda were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.)

*Note: This week, I posted for the second time that Chief Jane Moran had been making $120,000 when she left. That was based on an apparently erroneous report in Metrowest Daily News in 2014. According to the minutes from January 20, 2015’s Executive Session, she was making $125,000.

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8 years ago

There is no justification for this no matter how you spin it. He took the job at a certain salary and is essentially entitled to the raise the everyone else gets. The “pick and choose” huge increases that the BOS gives out are just plain wrong. If everyone in the Town Hall is getting 2%, he should get that as well. Same goes for Mark Purple. The BOS is sending a very clear message that they can do whatever they want with our tax dollars whenever they want. THIS IS WRONG, people! When was the last time you got a 15% increase, if ever?

8 years ago
Reply to  resident

In the two organizations i manage some employees negotiate well when they enter our companies, others do not. Merit and accomplishments are what America is all about. When someone comes in does a spectacular job i regularly make sure we give raises that keep us competitive to the market. Several of our employees got 10-20% raises this year for one reason, they earned it. They did a great job, no drama and acted like professionals 100% of the time. My limited observation since the Chief was hired is similar to my best employees. No drama, executes on the town’s objectives and most importantly is respected by the men and women under his command. Lastly given the responsibility level his salary sounds low to me…..talented people eventually always go where they are treated best.

8 years ago

The BOS is doing what the people want them to do. If this was not the case more people would run for office. just like on the national level. Obama won big and was re-elected and now some are running around in horror that he will be picking another Supreme Court Justice. Bottom line if the BOS was not doing what the people want others would step up. Now a bigger issue, how about $15 or $20 an hour minimum wage for all via a salary ordinance?

8 years ago

Good citizens of Southborough,
I would agree with the BOS decision to adjust the base pay for the position of SB Chief of Police. The pay level must be commensurate with comparable communities if we are to attract and retain the most qualified, smartest and most effective executive for this extraordinarily important position.(my opinion even as a “dyed in the wool” libertarian/independent God-fearing “Feel the Bern” & Senator Warren lover!). We need a strong, high minded, intelligent Police Chief. Pay for the best to get the best.

That said, we also need SMART metrics against which we can know, not opine, whether or not we are getting what we pay for. (Smart, Measurable, Articulated, Relevant & Timely objectives). Do we know what SB’s Police Chief’s objectives are?

The SB Police Dept website states that the “main objective [of the Dept] is to provide additional avenues and means for the general public to reach out to this police department, whether it is to help solve criminal or non-criminal issues or concerns.”. To me, while a laudable objective, though a bit squishy. I would suggest a clear concise list of SMART objectives that we can use to assess performance. #1 and #2 in my mind should be DIRECTLY tied to protecting the public and Servicing to the community. Police culture should be professional, firm, judicious and promote respect by and from the public, of all ages and classes within the community.

BTW, I think the SB Police exhibit these characteristics…. the criteria just aren’t being measured and documented. Then we can all support salaries that are commensurate for what we want and expect.

8 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Hi Beth,

ya know, after reading your rebuttal and then my original post, i realized that my comments probably came across as critical of Chief Paulhus. That is certainly not my opinion so thanks for calling me out on the point (‘squishy objectives’). My criticism wasnt intended to say that Chief Paulhus’s performance was below par or failed to meet objective criteria. Rather, i simply would like for the public to establish criteria that could be applied to any police chief who would represent our fair town. thanks

Al Hamilton
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

My information is a bit dated by there is very little management by objectives or use of metrics to benchmark performance in town government. The nature of the beast is to resist change at all costs.

By the way, I am not criticizing anyone in particular but governments in in general, and ours is not exception, do not exist in the dog eat dog competitive environment that characterizes the private sector. I know the competitors in my business that are trying to put me out of business before I put them out. If Southborough has a world class Police Department the Westborough Department has no reason for concern about their budget.

Just look at the disparity between the cost per student in Shrewsbury and Southborough. It has no effect on policy.

The reason why the educational establishment is so concerned about charter schools is that they have never had to compete for students before.

SB Resident
8 years ago

A problem we have in Southborough when trying to compare to other towns is that our towns aren’t equal. We often compare ourselves to Westborough, Shrewsbury, and Honpkinton, but we only have about 3300 households while they have 7000, 13000, and 5200 respectively. I’m not saying that our chief should earn half that of Westborough’s or a quarter of Shrewsbury’s but the jobs certainly aren’t equal.

When comparing our schools to Shrewsbury, there is some level of overhead that can be absorbed when you have a district that is 3x the size. This is a large part of why we’ve partnered with Northborough, but it still probably accounts for some of the disparity in cost per student.

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