On-Call Firefighters Left Out of Chester Pay Increase

CHESTER – The board of selectmen did not reach a decision on whether the on-call members of the fire department should be included in a blanket 50 cents an hour pay increase the board approved earlier this year. While the motion, made by Joe Castricone, indicated that all employees would receive the raise, fire department members were not included.

The way the raises were approved and given out this year was different than has been done in the past, as the board generally gives a percentage increase and is more specific about which employees get the raise, oftentimes leaving it up to department heads.
After the raises went out, and included some part-time employees who haven’t received them in the past, some fire department members noted the lack of an equal raise in their paychecks.
Fire chief Rich Antoine brought those concerns to the board earlier this year, more as a comment than a request.
Castricone raised the matter at the Thursday, Nov. 14 meeting, noting that he didn’t initially include the fire department in his figures because he thought the selectmen did not decide raises for them. Castricone is the liaison to the fire department.
Selectman chair Steph Landau indicated he was against the raises, but did not state that outright. He said the selectmen do their job for $2,000 a year (the chair for $2,500), a sum that doesn’t cover their expenses, but they didn’t do it for the money but to serve their community. Landau said he thinks the fire department members do it for the same reasons, before pointing to a need to start curbing spending.
Should the raises also be given to the department, the cost would be $2,200, said Castricone.
Selectman Jack Cannon said the raises this year had been a disaster. He added that the board still needed to look at full-time employees who received less than a 2 percent raise.
Cannon voted against the motion to give the 50 cents, stating that it hadn’t been properly reviewed and that full-time employees deserved something different.
The board agreed to postpone any decision until they could speak with Antoine on that issue.

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