The First Selectman in East Lyme is volunteering to take a $16,000 reduction in salary as the town makes tough financial decisions in tough financial times.
“I think it’s just time to have some skin in the game," First Selectman Mark Nickerson said. Nickerson said his office has been in the midst of making budget reductions throughout the town.
“I’m cutting positions in this town," said Nickerson. "We’re cutting the budget down to the bare bone and we needed to feel it at the First Selectman’s office too.”
Nickerson received approval from the town's Finance Committee on Monday evening, to drop his current $115,459 salary to about $99,000 per year.
“There was no place else to cut and it felt like the right thing to do," he said.
With fewer state dollars coming to East Lyme - and many communities in Connecticut - Nickerson acknowledges that his $16,000 pay cut will not be enough to solve all of the problems associated with the town's $70 million budget.
“Compared to $70 million, $16,000 is not that much," said East Lyme resident Mike Dreyfus. Still, Dreyfus applauds the symbolic statement Nickerson is making. “Anytime he’s willing to cut his own salary to benefit the town, I think that’s a good thing," he said.
Nickerson, meanwhile, said he will work just as hard - if not harder - with his new, smaller paycheck.
“We all have to pitch in," Nickerson said. "We all have to do our share and this is my share.”
In addition to being paid as the First Selectman of East Lyme, Nickerson said he also receives a paycheck from an insurance business that he runs. The reduced pay as First Selectman would begin in July.