Durham releases town wage figure report online

By Connor Clerkin
On April 27, 2012


A PDF file on the town of Durham's website that provides wage figures for all of the town's employees was released recently, and includes elected officials that receive a stipend for service. The table-format PDF provides both first and last names for each employee, the employee's title, gross wages, and a breakdown of those wages including salary, overtime pay and merit pay, among other things.

The creation of this report is not mandatory for the town, but the current town administrator, Todd Selig, believes that it is important for the sake of facilitating the release of information and providing easily understandable access to information for Durham's citizens. 

"Employees of the town of Durham are public employees, and as such it is essential for the public to understand how they are compensated each year," Selig said in an email.

Toward the top of this list are the positions of chief of police, fire chief and town administrator. Number one on the list for 2011 is Selig, with gross wages listed at $116,023.22. According to the document, gross wages include overtime, merit pay, holiday pay, longevity pay, and insurance credit.

Following Selig in the top five highest paid town employees are James Brown, fire captain, with gross wages of $109,939.41; Franklin Daly, police sergeant, with gross wages of $108,982.26; David Kurz, chief of police, with gross wages of $101,956.03; and David Emanuel, fire captain, with gross wages of $98,280.72.

Wages are based on the 2011 New Hampshire Municipal Association Wage and Salary Survey that is conducted in communities of New Hampshire such as Dover, Exeter and Portsmouth. Durham, by design, provides wages that are neither the highest nor lowest of the surrounding communities. The administration believes that this is the fairest way to set the pay scale.

"We have advocated funding for the various agencies of the town in a manner so as to provide the minimum staffing needed, utilizing hardworking, competent personnel," Selig said.

By consulting the Wage and Salary Survey, it is possible to examine the salaries for all positions of every town in New Hampshire. For many positions, however, only a range of possible salaries is available to view. For instance, while Durham's release gives a definite figure for the salary of the chief of police, the survey only gives a range.

It is still possible to see the differences in salary. Durham's maximum salary for the chief of police falls between the nearby salaries in Dover and Exeter, while the fire chief salary in Durham is lower than both Exeter and Dover. For the most part, salaries across the board are fairly consistent, at least for towns of similar sizes. There are exceptions, however. It is possible for the fire chief in Manchester to make almost $60,000 more than in any other city in New Hampshire.

Nearly all proposals regarding the town budget in Durham are extensively discussed. Proposers are required to prevent detailed analysis justifying logic while also pointing out why the money could be not used in other ways. The new town budget is expected to increase the municipal portion of the town's tax rate from $7.57 to $7.61.

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