Wallingford Electric Division employees,  police officer among highest paid in town

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WALLINGFORD — The top 10 highest paid town employees in 2020-21 included two Electric Division employees and a police lieutenant.

According to an earnings report provided by the comptroller’s office, Electric Division First Class Lineman John Pierlioni came in at No. 3 with a salary of $167,106, and Chief Lineman Fred Andrulat ranked No. 6 with a salary of $163,479.

Pierlioni has been working for the Electric Division for 12 years and Andrulat for 14 ½ years.

Their job responsibilities and tenure only partly account for their high income last year.

Tony Buccheri, Wallingford Electric Division general manager, said that when the Electric Division has emergency or scheduled overtime work, “these gentlemen rarely turn down the opportunity.”

In addition to Pierlioni and Andrulat, three of the top 10 wage earners last year are Public Utilities employees.

Public Utilities Director Richard Hendershot is the second-highest earner with a salary of $191,053. Buccheri came in at No. 4 with a salary of $166,364 and Water and Sewer Divisions General Manager Neil Amwake ranks No. 10 with a salary of $158,444.

The town’s Electric Division has 66 employees, including engineers, linemen and electricians, while the Water and Sewer divisions have about 42 and 33 employees, respectively, according to town budget documents.

Also among the top wage earners last year is Police Lt. Sam Soukup, shift commander for the department’s patrol division. He earned $159,590, putting him at No. 9.

Soukup has been employed with the Wallingford Police Department for almost 22 years.

His base salary is $97,537, which does not include any shift premium pay or holiday pay that he may have accrued during the pay period, Police Chief John Ventura said.

Ventura said Soukup’s additional salary reflects overtime and private duty.

Nearly 40 percent of Soukup’s earnings last year came from outside contractor work, which is directly paid by the company requesting the officer for duty.

Police officers are hired by outside contractors for things like traffic control at road construction jobs.

In some instances, officers are hired by Amazon to facilitate passage of vehicles from public roadways into private driveways, Ventura said.

School system, mayor

Other top wage earners last year include Wallingford Public Schools administrators.

Former Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo came in at No. 1, with total gross earnings of $203,911. Menzo stepped down in June to accept the position of superintendent of Goodwin University Magnet Schools.

Other highly compensated school district employees include Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carrie LaTorre at No. 5, who earned $164,246, and former Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Danielle Bellizzi at No. 7, who earned $163,296.

Bellizzi was appointed as the new school superintendent last month, which moves her to the top of the list of projected highest compensated town employees for the current fiscal year, according to the comptroller’s office.

The school district employs 1,370 people, including certified and non-certified staff, and has an annual budget of $106 million — roughly two thirds of the town’s total municipal budget.

Teacher salaries are collectively bargained through the Wallingford Education Association.

Rounding out the top 10 is former Comptroller Jim Bowes, who retired in April but stayed on part-time through the Town Council’s series of workshops on the 2021-22 municipal budget. He was paid a total of $163,063 last year.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., who was recently endorsed by the town’s Republican town committee as he seeks a 20th term in office this fall, is the top administrator in town government.

All department and agency heads report to the mayor, who also appoints certain personnel.

At $96,000, Dickinson’s annual salary is lower than that of 356 other municipal employees, including 311 Board of Education employees, according to information from the town Human Resources department presented by Town Councilor Chris Shortell during the April 13 workshop on the 2021-22 budget.

Shortell suggested amending the budget to raise Dickinson’s salary by around 50 percent, to bring it in line with other town executives in the area, saying he wanted not only to properly compensate Dickinson, but increase the mayor’s office budget overall.

For more than a decade, the mayor’s salary stayed around $73,000. In 2013, the Town Council gave the position a $12,000 raise, which brought the salary up to $96,000.

The amendment ultimately did not go through, after Dickinson said he would not support increasing his salary due to the ongoing economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dickinson was not available for comment for this story.

Fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30.

The comptroller’s office provided a projected earnings list for the highest paid town employees based on salaries in the current fiscal year.

The actual highest compensated employees in the current fiscal year won’t be known until employee emergency and overtime hours are accrued.

School administrators take up more than half of the list.

At the top is Bellizzi, the new school superintendent, with a base salary $190,000 plus a $4,750 annual stipend.

Francis Thompson, the new assistant superintendent for personnel, has an incoming salary of $172,000, putting him at No. 3. The Board of Education appointed Thompson to the position this past week, and his first day slated for Sept. 1.

LaTorre, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, came in at No. 4 with a salary of $167,531 and Aimee Turner, the assistant superintendent for special education, ranked No. 6 with a salary of $165,000.

Turner’s position was created in June out of the former director of pupil personnel services position.

Both of the high school principals — Enzo Zocco at Sheehan Joe Corso at Lyman Hall — have salaries of $161,263, putting them at No. 7 and No. 8.

Hendershot remains at No. 2 at $190,5534. Buccheri came in at No. 5 with a salary of $166,364.

Amwake and Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small round out the list at No. 9 and No. 10, both with a salary of $158,444.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

Wallingford top 10 highest paid town employees, 2020-21

  • 1. Former Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo, $203,911
  • 2. Public Utilities Director Richard Hendershot, $191,053
  • 3. First Class Lineman John Pierlioni, $167,106
  • 4. Electric Division Manager Tony Buccheri, $166,364
  • 5. Assistant Schools Superintendent Carrie LaTorre, $164,246
  • 6. Chief Lineman Fred Andrulat, $163,479
  • 7. Former Assistant Schools Superintendent Danielle Bellizzi, $163,296
  • 8. Former Comptroller Jim Bowes, $163,063
  • 9. Police Officer Sam Soukup, $159,590
  • 10. Water and Sewer Divisions Manager Neil Amwake, $158,444

Projected earnings for the highest paid town employees, 2021-22

  • 1. Superintendent of Schools Bellizzi, base salary $190,000 plus $4,750 annual stipend
  • 2. Hendershot, $190,553
  • 3. Assistant Schools Superintendent Francis Thompson, $172,000
  • 4. LaTorre, $167,531
  • 5. Buccheri, $166,364
  • 6. Assistant Schools Superintendent Aimee Turner, $165,000
  • 7 and 8. Sheehan High School principal Enzo Zocco and Lyman Hall High School principal Joe Corso, $161,263
  • 9 and 10. Amwake and Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small, $158,444

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