The Everett City Council’s Committee on the Whole met Monday night, and voted by a 6-4 margin to implement a new longevity payment schedule that would pay Mayor Carlo DeMaria $1,700 per year.
The matter now proceeds to a vote of the entire City Council at its Feb. 14 meeting.
Acting on a motion by Councilor-at-Large Stephanie Smith, and another proposal by Councillor Michael Marchese to eliminate the current mayoral longevity payment arrangement, the Council decided to group Mayor DeMaria in the “department head” category of the longevity schedule. In that payment arrangement, department heads receive an annual payment of $800 for 10 years of service, $1,300 for 15 years of service, and $1,700 for 20 years of service. Mayor DeMaria has served for more than 20 years in city government and would thus receive $1,700 per year during his current mayoral term.
Under Everett’s exisiting longevity pay agreement, Mayor DeMaria receives $10,000 for each completed term as mayor. He has served five terms which means the longevity payment to DeMaria is $40,000.
The Council took a circuitous route to the final vote of the evening as various measures were considered and voted upon by the 10 councilors present at the meeting. But in the end, Smith and Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese stayed the course and ultimately obtained the result that they were clearly seeking from the outset of the meeting.
Councilors Stephanie Smith, Michael Marchese, John Hanlon, Jimmy Tri Le, Stephanie Martins, and Vivian Nguyen voted for the new longevity pay arrangement. The four councilors voting against the new arrangement (and instead wanting to retain the annual $40,000 longevity payment to Mayor DeMaria) were Councilors Alfred Lattanzi, Anthony DiPierro, Irene Cardillo, and Richard Dell Isola. Councilor-at-Large Wayne Matewsky did not attend the meeting.
Marchese opened the discussion by stating that the ordinance (Section 7-167) he wanted deleted would “eliminate the Mayor’s longevity (payment) which only four other people in Massachusetts receive.”
“It’s been abused – I don’t know when the agreements came on or when it changed. I saw a 13-second thing, Peter Napolitano explaining this piece, which was agreed upon, which was $2,500,” said Marchese. “I don’t know where it morphed into $40,000-$50,000 per year. I don’t think it’s in good taste for someone to get a bonus of $50,000 or $40,000 a year when you’re being compensated very well by the City of Everett to the tune of $190,000.”
During the discussion, Councillor DiPerro spoke in favor of the current longevity payment of $40,000. “I will repeat what I’ve said in meetings past: longevity should take the politics out of pay increases for the position of mayor or anyone serving in that office,” said DiPierro. “It increases as tenure does and scales back when a new person takes office. It is my opinion that without longevity, you’ll have a base salary that will exponentially rise over time, every time an increase is sought. It rewards someone that sticks around and sees a vision through. Good government requires stability and good ideas require time.”
In an ensuing discussion about Councilor Cardillo’s “cap and keep” motion to keep the payment arrangement as is, Smith voiced her opposition.
Smith brought with her to the meeting a four-page summary that showed that only five other mayors (of the 47 mayors in Massachusetts) had longevity payment agreements (According to Smith, those cities are Brockton, Newton, Agawam, Chicopee, and Holyoke). The longevity payments fell far short of Everett’s $40,000 figure.
“I think the base salary of the mayor should be set to attract the most capable candidate, yet mindful of the taxpayers’ money,” said Smith. “So, I think we should look at the salary and then the longevity to me – an elected official should not get longevity. You’re elected by the people, so that is your longevity. Being mindful of the taxpayers’ money, setting a cap and keep of $40,000 a year is not mindful of the taxpayers’ money, I’m sorry.”
Lattanzi said he didn’t agree with Smith’s summation. “I was thinking about some things that have happened in this city and one of them was the casino [Encore],” said Lattanzi, adding that Mayor DeMaria spoke to Steve Wynn “and decided to clean up the acreage below the Rotary that had been polluted for decades.”
“Not only did he [DeMaria] do that, but he put a $2.6 billion casino down there, which is probably the biggest, private project that’s ever been done in Massachusetts,” said Lattanzi. “And after that, the casino has been giving [Everett] somewhere in the area of $40 million a year in taxes. Having said, the longevity payment that we’re going to give him is a drop in the bucket. I think the Mayor deserves what we give him. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we pull in. I don’t think the longevity payment of $40,000 is much at all, compared to what this guy has been doing.”
However, the Council eventually decided by a 6-4 margin they may put an end to Mayor DeMaria’s annual $40,000 longevity payment, setting the stage for the final vote at the next meeting on Feb. 14.
Smith talked about the vote following the meeting. “I think the mayor does an excellent job for the city,” said Smith. “He’s compensated fairly, and I think the longevity pay should be the same as every other city employee in the department head position if we’re going to keep longevity.”
While noting the different motions that were voted upon by the councillor before the final vote, Smith offered, “I’m just happy it got resolved.”
“I’m grateful to the residents of the City of Everett for giving me a historic and unprecedented sixth term as Mayor. I fully anticipated that the Everett City Council would take action on the longevity ordinance that they originally passed. I will follow the final language the Council adopts as I have complied with the original ordinance since 2016,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria.