“With COVID, I work seven days a week 24/7. I need to start weaning off that because I’m getting burnt out,” said Warren town administrator Cindi Jones at a Warren Select Board meeting on Tuesday, October 27.
At the meeting, Jones presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the select board regarding her job hours and duties, in which Jones asked for a 5% salary increase every year for the next seven years. In the Warren Town Report from 2019, Jones’ 2019 base salary was listed as $59,830. Her 2020 base salary was not available at press time. With a 5% salary increase each year, Jones’ base salary would be $86,712 by 2027, not including benefits.
At the meeting, Jones presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the select board regarding her job hours and duties, in which Jones asked for a 5% salary increase every year for the next six years. In the Warren Town Report from 2019, Jones’ base salary was listed as $59,830. With a 5% salary increase each year, Jones’ base salary would be $86,712 by 2027, not including benefits.
To make her case for a six-year consecutive salary increase, Jones started by mentioning that the nature of her job makes it impossible to take vacation time. “I have five weeks this year that I just got. That’s going to roll over into next year because I still have two weeks of vacation from this year that I haven’t used yet,” said Jones. “I don’t have enough time to take my vacation.”
Additionally, Jones argued that she’s doing two jobs at once, which she discovered after looking at the town’s staff plan from 2003. “I actually went back to 2003 and looked at all the salaries. When you hired a department of public works director, you put them in for duties that I had been assuming prior. Now you are asking me to continue to do those duties based on the fact that you probably won’t have a DW next year,” said Jones. “I’m just clarifying that over the years I’ve done two people’s jobs and I haven’t gotten compensation for it.
“The town of Warren has gotten a pretty good deal since I’ve been working here,” she added. She also mentioned that she answers calls and emails for the town all the time, every day, even when she is babysitting her grandson.
Moreover, Jones’ MOU asks that select board members notify her 30 days prior to asking her to do a task that is not listed in her job description. “If there’s other assigned duties, please notify me 30 days prior to discuss it, and don’t just say, oh you’ll do it,” said Jones. “I’ve been good-natured over the past years. I’m a Vermonter here, we just jump in and do things. But there comes a point where I can’t do that anymore.”
Eventually, the select board went into executive session to discuss the details of the contract. However, before doing so, board members shared a few thoughts on the MOU.
“It would be very out of the ordinary for us to sign a document like this,” said select board chair Andrew Cunningham, who suggested that Jones alert the select board if she feels overworked. “When we ask you to do something and if we are asking too much, then we need to hear that,” said Cunningham. “We don’t want to push you past where you are comfortable. You have other things to do, you have a life to live.”
Along the same vein, select board member Bob Ackland said, “As far as I’m concerned, you can turn your phone off on Friday and Saturday and Sunday and the world will not collapse.”
Before entering into the executive session, Cunningham told the public, “I don’t believe we are going to sign this today.”
The board took no action after the executive session.