SANDOWN – Former selectmen’s office manager Lynne Blaisdell has been promoted to the position of town administrator/welfare officer by the board of selectmen. While many reasons prompted the move, the board said that at its core is the fact that Blaisdell has been taking on many responsibilities beyond her job description for a long time.
The selectmen have often said that that from their perspective, Blaisdell more or less keeps the town running. And when there are questions, they go to Blaisdell for the answers. The decision was announced at the Monday, April 22 meeting but was decided in a non-public session April 15. The minutes of that meeting were unsealed Monday night.
Selectman Brenda Copp explained the reasoning behind the decision. On the financial end, Copp said that when Blaisdell was moved into the role of office manager in 2006, the selectmen promised her $2 more an hour after 90 days but that raise was never given. According to Copp, the unearned wages from that $2 alone amount to $27,000.
This realization prompted the board to look more closely at Blaisdell’s position and its pay.
The board researched similar positions and pay in 11 nearby towns. This research indicated that not only was Blaisdell handling responsibilities far beyond her job description when compared with other towns, but she was usually doing more than those with better pay and more responsibilities. Blaisdell has also been handling welfare officer duties. In other towns that role is generally held by a separate individual.
As office manager Blaisdell earns $44,000 a year. While for towns with an office manager or administrative aide the pay was comparable, those taking on the same duties as Blaisdell does were paid significantly more. In Brentwood it was $54,000; Fremont, $57,000; Newton, $60,000, Auburn, $74,000; Atkinson, $75,972 and Plaistow, $88,000. “We felt it was unwarranted what we were asking her to do so we gave her a promotion. It was long overdue,” said Copp.
Starting June 1 Blaisdell will take on the new position at $52,000 a year. Her job will go from hourly to salaried, in part because she wasn’t being paid overtime but was accruing so much compensatory time that Copp joked that Blaisdell could have taken a full year off with all of the extra hours she put into the job. The selectmen were clear that they checked state law and did not have to go to a warrant article for the expanded position. The move was something they did, said Copp, because they were elected to run the town smoothly and this is required to do so. If they were to create a town manager position, it would have required a vote by the legislative body.
Chair Tom Tombarello said he was 100 percent behind the promotion and it was long overdue. He added that he still thinks the town is getting a deal with Blasidell, even with the pay raise.
Blaisdell thanked the board. “I appreciate what everyone has done for me and I look forward to the future,” she said.