Chief Doug Charbonneau was denied a pay increase at Monday night's meeting of the township's .
Charbonneau, who has been the fire chief since April 2007, argued that a pay raise was justified. While the Chesterfield Township Board of Trustees all approved of the job that Charbonneau has been doing, they did not agree that the pay increase was feasible.
The agenda item for a new employment agreement between Charbonneau and the township had been postponed twice — on June 4 and June 18.
In an interview after the meeting, Chesterfield Supervisor Michael Lovelock said the employment agreement that over the course of two years, Charbonneau's salary would be raised from it's current amount — about $85,000 per year — to the amount paid to Charbonneau's predecessor — about $89,000 per year.
“I believe he's proved himself. I'm asking that this board approve what (the former Fire Chief) Scott Messer made seven years ago when he left here,” Lovelock said at the meeting. “To me this is not a pay increase for this chief, we are just bringing him to the standards of the last chief that was here seven years ago.”
Almost every member of the Board of Trustees spoke out against a pay raise to Charbonneau, but not on the grounds that Charbonneau was not deserving of it. Rather, they lauded his work, but argued that it simply was not feasible.
Michele Ficht was the first trustee to comment on the issue, arguing that while Charbonneau has done a good job as fire chief, a millage for the fire department is already necessary without any pay increases.
“If (we) do not pass the millage, we will not have a fire department in 2013 since we will not have the resources to fund it," Ficht said.
Trustee Scott DeMuynck said he had “nothing but praise” for Charbonneau, but he too agreed that a millage was imminent and a pay increase did not make fiscal sense.
“Right now it's not a good time, we're going into deficit — we all know that,” DeMunyck said. “There's going to be a millage in November.”
Charbonneau then addressed the board. He argued that the pay increase would be fair in comparison to salaries of other department leaders in the township and that his pay increase would only be to return his salary to the rate that was paid the former fire chief.
“Nobody in the township has been asked to assume a position, take a position or be hired at a lower wage than any of their predecessors — other than me,” he said.
Charbonneau then proceeded to say he expected a pay raise because of a verbal agreement he had with Lovelock.
Ficht said she and the other members of the board had no knowledge of this agreement.
“That's something he never shared with the rest of the board,” she said.
Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock then made a motion to vote on the proposed agreement, but no one seconded his motion.
Charbonneau left the meeting shortly after and declined a request for an interview.
Lovelock declined to comment on the alleged verbal agreement between himself and Charbonneau.