Musto donates salary increase

Anthony Musto
Anthony Musto

As political rivalries go, competing to be more charitable is pretty good.

Town Treasurer Anthony Musto donated nearly $2,200 to Trumbull Social Services last week. He said the donation was part of a campaign promise he made not to accept a pay increase that he believes was passed in violation of the Town Charter, outside of the normal budget process.

The pay raises were passed via Town Council ordinance and increased the salaries of the town treasurer, first selectman and town clerk.

“This was a campaign promise we made, and I asked [Board of Finance Chairman] Elaine Hammers not to give me the raise,” Musto said. “But she was bound by the ordinance, and told me if I didn’t want to keep the money to donate it. So I gave it to the people of Trumbull since it’s their money.”

Democratic Chairman Tom Kelly said the ordinance, which specifically removed the finance board’s oversight on salaries, proved the pay increases violated the charter.

“Only the Town Council voted on the salary increase ordinance, cutting the Board of Finance and first selectman out of the budget process,” Kelly said. “This violates the budget checks and balances found in Trumbull’s charter. … If not for the ordinance, the board would have been able to alter the treasurer’s salary as provided for in the charter.”

Kelly said Trumbull Democrats on the Town Council and finance board would oppose pay hikes for elected officials in the upcoming budget season and would advocate limiting future raises to the annual Social Security increases.

“We hope our Republican colleagues will support our charter and the concept that elected officials should not receive a greater salary increase than our taxpayers,” Kelly said.

First Selectman Tim Herbst, who also was a recipient of the council-approved pay hike, said he was glad Musto was following the lead of himself and Town Clerk Suzanne Burr Monaco, who both took 3% pay cuts when they took office. He also referenced again Musto’s habit of working from home or his Fairfield law office.

“The town clerk and I believe in charitable giving and we both believe that charitable giving is personal, sometimes anonymous and should not be politicized,” Herbst said. “Personally, I am very encouraged that Mr. Musto is returning his salary increase to the town. I actually hope he will donate even more of his salary to the town of Trumbull based largely upon the fact that he is rarely at Town Hall.”