Bristol County Water Authority board balks at 5-percent raise for director
Before the board of directors approves a $6,200 salary increase for the Bristol County Water Authority executive director, members of the board want to see if, in the year that Pamela Marchand has held the post, she has earned the proposed 5 percent raise.
At a meeting last week, the board did not make a decision on the raise, nor on a request to hire a new $100,000-per-year engineer.
Upon hiring Ms. Marchand last year, the board approved her starting salary of approximately $125,000, plus a generous benefit package, including the use of a BCWA vehicle. In the top spot, Ms. Marchand would act as the Authority’s executive director and chief engineer.
While her role as executive director was not scrutinized, Frank Sylvia, Bristol’s representative on the BCWA board, did question her capacity as chief engineer, and what she accomplished in the past year in that capacity.
Ms. Marchand defended her role as chief engineer first by explaining the function of a chief engineer.
“Chief engineer means you oversee the engineers. It doesn’t mean you do the work of an engineer,” Ms. Marchand said.
Secondly she said that her expertise in engineering had applications in developing the BCWA’s 20-year capital plan, infrastructure review, bond financing and strategic planning. She did not, however, cite any instances where she affixed her engineering stamp on any projects.
The board asked for a more detailed breakdown of salary and benefits before acting on Ms. Marchand’s raise. Board member Raymond Palmeri also questioned the hefty raise.
“I’m not comfortable voting for something that pays the executive director more than the governor of the state of Rhode Island,” he said.
Hiring a new engineer?
At the same time, the board balked at Ms. Marchand’s request to hire an engineering project manager whose compensation package would be approximately $100,000.
“A lot of work for this position is what Pam was supposed to be doing,” said Mr. Palmeri. “I see a lot of overlap. I’d hate to see another manager position.”
Ms. Marchand said that the position would be necessary in order to complete the aggressive project list, including the Poppasquash Road upgrades, that are planned. The position, she said, was already budgeted.
“Just because it’s in the budget it doesn’t mean you have to spend it,” said Mr. Sylvia.