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Public vs. Private Compensation: Avon

The Avon Taxpayers Association asked the Yankee Institute to conduct a comparative analysis of compensation levels for Avon public sector employees. Specifically, the Avon Taxpayers were interested in how compensation for unionized teachers compared to comparable positions in private institutions, particularly given the current economic recession.

An association member advised that the 2009/2010 budget provided for an increase in teacher salaries by 1.5% across the board and suggested this increase is well above the national average and out of sync with professional counterparts. Association president Florence Stahl stated, “Here we are in the worst economic mess we have ever seen yet our public sector employees are still getting wage rises… and our taxes are paying for it.”

A review of Avon Town Budget papers by Yankee revealed a .51% increase in the 2009/10 town budget, primarily to support an increase in employee benefits. The mill rate tax has been increased by around 1.65% to cover this. While modest, many taxpayers believe that the current economic environment called for a decrease in expenditures rather than an increase.

Using data from Business and Legal Reports as the bench mark for professional and executive base compensation levels, Yankee analyzed compensation data across six employment categories and compared the outcome against Avon High School teacher base salaries. On every level of comparison, base level compensation paid to Avon High School teachers was well above any of their comparable professional counterparts, in some cases nearly 90% above.

This does not take into account the extensive benefits provided to public sector education employees. A limited review of public records for other Avon public schools, and for public schools in neighboring towns of Farmington, Canton, and Simsbury indicates that a similar detailed review of these records is warranted.

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