The brouhaha over the issue of the longevity pay for the office of mayor that has been creating turmoil in the city for the past six months seemed to have reached a conclusion not with a bang, but with a whimper, in less than 10 minutes.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, which overall lasted for more than four hours, Councillor Michael Marchese put forth a resolution requesting that Mayor Carlo DeMaria, City Solicitor Colleen M. Mejia, and City Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas appear personally to explain the methodology behind determining the payment figure.
DeMaria, in prepared comments, explained how in 2016, the then-Council approved an ordinance that paid to the office of mayor a $10,000 longevity stipend for every completed term.
DeMaria mentioned that he has completed his fifth term as Mayor. “No one anticipated a mayor serving for so long,” he told the Councilors, adding, “There has been nothing concealed or hidden (about the longevity amount) by me or my administration.”
DeMaria maintained that the payment amount has always been listed clearly in the budget, saying, “No councilor since 2016 has ever questioned the amount.”
After DeMaria finished his remarks, Marchese, who became increasingly flustered, argued with DeMaria during a two-minute encounter, prompting City Councilor John Hanlon to propose a five-minute recess.
At that point, Marchese abruptly said, “I’m fine, no more questions.” There were no additional questions from the other City Councilors.
Marchese then asked that Demas and Mejia, who were never asked a question, be given the customary thanks along with DeMaria.
However, the bitterness did not end as some members of the audience became more vocal, interrupting the continuation of Council affairs, prompting Michael Mangan, who was Acting Clerk, to warn the audience members, “Clear the Chamber or be escorted out of the Chamber.”
Marchese’s resolution was “referred back to sponsor,” a procedural move that usually effectively signals an end to the matter.
The Council has changed the ordnance for longevity pay for the mayor to $1,700 per year.
The following are DeMaria’s full remarks to the council:
“It is important to make something perfectly clear to the residents.
I have not spoken publicly on the issue regarding longevity payments for the position of Mayor before this to make sure there would be no conflict of interest.
As public officials, we are taught to avoid anything in our official capacity that could be viewed as trying to influence our own financial interests.
Discussions and deliberations went on for months in this Chamber related to longevity payments for the position of Mayor.
Because I hold the position of Mayor, it would not have been proper for me to speak during those deliberations. I was not going to speak publicly about an issue that would impact my personal financial situation.
There is no active matter before this Council related to compensation for the position for Mayor, which is why I am appearing this evening.
I have not been hiding from this issue. I have been doing everything I can to make sure that this issue was handled ethically.
I also have done nothing wrong with respect to the issue of longevity payments for the position of Mayor.
In 2016, there were conversations about the compensation for the position of Mayor. There were values and benefits that were realized by the community from having a Mayor in office that was able to see ideas became a reality. The long process of bringing a casino to the City-along with the revenue that comes to Everett from that business-is an example of how having a chief executive officer for a long period of time can benefit the community. Having a chief executive officer whose salary competes with that of the highest paid municipal employees did not present a problem.
How the longevity payments were made for the position of Mayor never changed.
The ordinance creating a longevity payment for the Mayor was passed in calendar year 2016 after the start of FY17.
How those payments were calculated never changed and were disclosed to the City Council in prior budget documents.
There was sufficient funding for the Mayor’s office in FY17 so a supplemental appropriation was not needed to cover this payment.
The amount of the longevity payment was listed under the Mayor’s office in the FY18 budget.
The amount of the payment being made for the Mayor’s longevity payment was included in the notes for the Mayor’s office in the FY19 budget.
For FY19 through 22, the longevity payment has been made from the same account that is used for other large employee payments. The Mayor’s longevity payment is being paid from an account where other similar expenditures are paid.
Most recently, how those payments were calculated was discussed at length during the FY22 budget hearings before the City Council.
Nothing was ever hidden, or concealed or misrepresented by me or by my Administration. Our position on the language that was passed has been consistent right up until this Council voted to make a change to that ordinance in 2022.
With due respect to the new Council members who have not served previously, the members of the City Council who have served since longevity was first established in 2016 will need to let residents know why this issue was not raised previously when you had information available to you.
I also want to be clear to residents on another point. There have been suggestions and accusations made that I did not take a longevity payment in January this year because I thought that I had done something wrong with the prior payments I received.
Let me be clear. The Council did not repeal the longevity payment ordinance last year. Because the Council didn’t repeal it, I could have taken the longevity payment in January of this year, consistent with how the payments were made since 2016, because I was re-elected to serve my fifth term as Mayor.”