A recent article in the Boston Globe concluded that Mayor Carlo DeMaria was the highest-paid mayor in the state with a base salary of $191,000 and longevity pay of $40,000.
The Globe article drew a contrast to the mayoral salaries of several other Massachusetts communities, such as Springfield at $152,160 and Brockton at $153,000, to make its point.
There is no denying that the Globe’s figures are correct. But these communities are well out of the Greater Boston area, which has some of the highest living expenses in the nation.
A better comparison are the salaries for the mayor of Medford, which is $182,000, and the mayor of Somerville, which is $208,000.
In addition, let’s look at the salaries for the city managers of Chelsea and Cambridge. In Chelsea, the city manager is paid a base salary of almost $200,000 and in Cambridge, the city manager receives a salary of $336,000 per year.
In the town of Winthrop, with a population of about 19,000 and which is seeking a new town manager, a discussion by the Town Council suggested the town would have to offer a starting salary in the vicinity of $220,000 to attract a quality candidate.
In our view, the article in the Globe only told half the story and cherry-picked its comparisons.
In addition, the recent comments on this issue made by City Councillor Michael Marchese are disingenuous. Mr. Marchese was on the council when the longevity pay motion was approved. If he has a problem with it now, why didn’t he have one with it back in 2016?
Councillor John Hanlon is correct when he always is questioning the clarity and use of words in a new city ordinance. Hanlon often makes the point that these ordinances are not good just for tomorrow, but for 10 years or longer.
In our view, the longevity ordinance should be amended with clearer and more concise language and word use. Perhaps if that work had been accomplished in 2016, then this whole brouhaha never would have happened.
For those who might think that these salaries for elected and appointed officials are too high, we would point out the experience of Chelsea in the 1980s to illustrate what happens when a community underpays its public servants.
The office of mayor was paid a pittance (even then), which led to various mayors seeking “outside” sources of income (if you know what we mean) — and the end result was that four mayors of that city ended up going to jail as Chelsea eventually went into state receivership in the early 1990s.
The issue of longevity pay for the office of mayor provides a defining moment for the Everett City Council to make a good ordinance better.
Hopefully, each member of the council will take the high road, rather than taking a dive into the swamp of politics.
This issue is not about any one person. Everett needs leaders now and in the future who will continue the momentum that residents now enjoy with a salary and compensation that is commensurate with surrounding communities. Let’s keep the debate to the position, not the person