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As salaries went up, total payroll remained steady

May 9, 2016

Even as town employee salaries went up last year, and the number of employees earning more than $75,000 continued to rise, the total payroll stayed almost level last year from the year before, according to recently-released town payroll records.

The total 2015 town payroll was $53,172,522.37, up only slightly from 2014, when the town paid out $53,128,412.35.

School Superintendent Lincoln Lynch was the highest-paid employee in the town of Walpole last year, bringing in about $194,248. That compensation included a base salary of about $182,000 and stipends totaling $11,000. Lynch earned a total of about $183,000 in the year prior.

Town Administrator Jim Johnson earned $162,720 last year. Lynch and Johnson were just two of the 77 town employees who were in the $100k club last year. Dozens of police officers and firefighters, along with a multitude of municipal department heads and school teachers and employees also received more than $100,000.

The trend of Lynch’s salary over the past few years suggests that he, and at least several police officers, are likely to be the first employees in town history to break the $200,000 mark when 2016 payroll records become available.

Total overtime costs in 2015 were $1,720,055, up from $1,609,307.98 in 2014. Total stipends went from $2,958,147.52 in 2014, to $3,070,486 in 2015.

The total number of employees earning more than $100,000 in 2014 was 68. For comparison purposes, this number was just 30 in 2009.

In 2015, there were a total of 314 town employees who earned more than $75,000. Out of the 637 employees who earned more than $30,000, indicating a full-time position, that figure represents almost half. That is an indication of an unsustainable top-heavy payroll, further reinforced by statistics from the Mass. Department of Revenue that have long shown that Walpole’s payroll is substantially larger than other towns with a similar number of employees.

In 2014, the town had 650 employees who earned more than $30,000. As individual salaries have gone up, there has been less money to go around, resulting in a reduction of 13 employees earning more than $30,000 this year. The ever-rising individual salaries means there will be less money to hire teachers and police officers going forward, as town funds increasingly go to those at the top of the unsustainable payroll.

The salary data is exclusively available on 180.

In a departure from past Town Reports, the 2015 Annual Town Report only reports gross pay for each town employee, omitting base pay, stipends, and overtime. Town Administrator Jim Johnson told Town Meeting Representatives last week that the town decided to only report gross pay because it would be “less confusing.” But RTMs John Hasenjaeger and Ann Ragosta criticized Johnson, arguing the decision to omit the information about stipends and overtime was a reduction in transparency, and would only cause more confusion about the composition of town employee salaries.

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