By Chris Maza
EAST LONGMEADOW – Information Technology (IT) Director Ryan Quimby made a recommendation on which candidate to hire to fill a position in the department, but he and the Board of Selectmen were in disagreement regarding the rate of pay during the board’s April 15 meeting.
Quimby recommended Andrew Collins for a computer technician position after what he called a “rigorous” interview process in which other members of the IT Department, as well as Board of Selectmen Chair Angela Thorpe were involved.
Thorpe said when the town started the hiring process, there were 85 candidates and that list was narrowed down to nine who were interviewed. After that initial interview, three were called back for a second interview and through that process; Collins was selected by Quimby for recommendation.
Thorpe suggested that be compensated at “Grade 6,” according to the town’s payment structure.
“Because it is an entry level IT position, I would recommend we start at the beginning of Grade 6, with respect to Mr. Quimby, who does not agree with that,” Thorpe said, citing “the [economic] times that we are in.”
While the actual salary amount was not discussed in open session, another employment advertisement on the town website lists Grade 6 Town Employees’ Union positions at a minimum starting salary of $16.34 per hour.
Federici asked if a salary offer was not included in the advertisement for the position and Quimby explained that the ad included a salary range, but claimed that starting at the bottom of that grade would not be a fair offer, given the responsibilities of the position.
“The grade that that position is in is incredibly low,” he said. “Even the highest under that grade is significantly lower than surrounding towns for comparable positions.”
Thorpe contended that because the level she recommended was the level listed in the advertisement, the candidate was aware of the potential salary. Quimby insisted, however, that the low end of that grade was not “fair market value” for the position.
“That position was graded when I had the position in the early 2000s,” Quimby said. “It’s grown a lot more since then and to start at the bottom of that range is not a fair offer for the position.”
At that point, Town Counsel James Donahue interjected and stated that because the issue dealt with matters regarding collective bargaining, that it should be discussed further in executive session.
In response, Thorpe entertained a motion to accept Collins as the candidate for hire, which was passed, and the remainder of the discussion regarding pay was tabled until the executive session portion of the meeting.
The board also voted to recommend Melissa DeFino-Legacy as the town’s assistant animal inspector for the Animal Control Department for one year, effective May 1.
Thorpe pointed out that a new job description would have to be posted on the town’s website to differentiate the duties of this position and Animal Control Officer Thomas O’Connor.