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Salaries put town in pay daze

'It all comes from our pockets'

July 14, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — The 11 highest paid town employees collectively took home $1,092,453 during fiscal 2010, and all but three of them were in the school system.

According to public records provided by the town treasurer's office in June, 43 of the roughly 600 town and school employees have salaries of at least $70,000 a year.

That figure is about three times the median personal income of Southbridge residents, which was $23,121 in 2008, as listed by citydata.com. It's also notably higher than the household median income, which was $44,346.

"This is a hurting town. Where does it end? You can only get so much blood from a stone," said William Rivernider while closing up his hot dog stand Wednesday. " The town says we'll get state aid, the state says we'll get federal aid, but it all comes from our pockets."

He was specifically objecting to taxes, noting government at various levels seems to keep adding various kinds of taxes and fees while everyday citizens' income isn't rising. He noted, however, that he knows many of the listed people and believes they are not trying to harm the citizens.

The names will surprise no one. Atop the list are three people making six-figure salaries: Town Manager Christopher Clark ($129,591), retired Superintendent Dale Hanley ($128,394) and Police Chief Daniel Charette ($114,470). The contract for Hanley's replacement, Eric Ely, is still under negotiation, but was advertised during the search this spring as being higher — up to $140,000. None of those figures include benefits such as town cars, annuities, mileage or insurance coverage, which can add significantly to the actual take-home income.

The treasurer's list also did not include overtime and detail payments for police officers, a common way officers can add thousands to their paychecks. The list only included two specific police department salaries — for Charette and Lt. Shane Woodson — while cataloging the other officers by their hourly base rates.

"It's a sin, when you see the money they're making compared to what the average Joe is making. Compared to what I'm making, they're getting rich," Rivernider said, looking at a list of the top employees.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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