Pay issues send town back to drawing board in Council on Aging search


Having lost their first choice for a new director at the Council on Aging because of money issues, Westport officials are discussing the possibility of boosting the position's rate of pay.

The Board of Selectmen last month unanimously chose Toni-Ann Cormier to take the top COA job but only days later she turned the job, saying the pay is insufficient.

Until the situation can be resolved, the COA is being led by Principal Clerk Jennifer Wagner.

Previously working as the activities director at the Dartmouth Council on Aging, Ms. Cormier had also worked as business manager for The Cedars assisted living center in Dartmouth and as a clerk and volunteer coordinator for the Westport Council on Aging. A graduate of Westport High School, Ms. Cormier recently earned a degree in social work from Boston University and also holds certifications in gerontology and outreach.

The job, formerly held by Mary Ellen Gomes, would have paid Ms. Cormier $45,000. Nineteen people applied for the position and two of them ultimately withdrew, citing pay concerns.

Since Ms. Cormier's withdrawal, the Board of Selectmen have discussed boosting the director's salary to $55,000, a change that could not be made without the approval of town meeting voters in May.

In the meantime, the town's Personnel Board must start a new search process and request for applications.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.