Warren council to reconsider building official salary
Four months after voters cut the Warren Building Official’s salary in half, at least one town council member wants to “reconsider” that decision and has scheduled a special meeting next Tuesday, Aug. 26, to do just that.
The position was one of several sacrificed at Financial Town Meeting to angry residents who wanted the town to reduce a large planned tax increase. In all, residents voted to cut the inspector’s and Warren Town Planner’s positions in half, and also voted to eliminate several part time clerk’s positions. In addition, the town clerk’s salary was reduced by several thousand dollars. In the end, the cuts — offset by several spending increases also voted on at the town meeting — resulted in a two-cent reduction in the tax rate.
In the months since that vote, Warren has had a difficult time attracting a permanent part time building official. Despite two rounds of advertising the vacancy, Warren Town Manager Thomas Gordon has not received any applications. Currently, the state is helping the town staff the position with the part time services of a retired building official from Tiverton.
Though the special meeting is coming two weeks before the Democratic primary election, council president Chris Stanley said that is mere coincidence.
“I suppose the timing is horrendous” coming just before the primary, said Mr. Stanley, a Republican. “But the town needs to function and the council must still carefully address the serious issues in front of it even if there is an election.”
The Financial Town Meeting was one of the most contentious in years. The reduction was motioned by audience member Benjamin DeCastro, and the only councilor to vote for the reductions was Cathie Tattrie, a Democrat. She has not yet returned an e-mail sent Wednesday morning, in which she was asked whether she will vote to reinstate the position. Her comments will be added should she respond.
As for Mr. Stanley, his decision to revisit the issue is a turnabout from quotes he made following the Financial Town Meeting. Asked two weeks after the vote whether he would reinstate any of the cut positions were money to become available, he said:
“I don’t know that we’re in the position where we’d want to go against their will. People want to see some type of improvement with their dollars. Right now they’re not seeing those improvements. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to restore anything that they cut.”