20 Aug 2014
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Councilors Set Framework for Mayor Salary Hike

The Committee on Ordinance & Rules will take up the proposed salary increase for Braintree's mayor again in February.

Councilors Set Framework for Mayor Salary Hike

Town councilors will look at data such as the salaries of mayors and administrators in towns with similar operating budgets as they move toward a possible raise for Braintree's mayor.

The salary of the mayor has remained at $105,000 since Braintree changed its form of government five years ago, and is now lower than what a significant portion of the town's department heads, school principals and other officials earn annually.

Earlier this year, Councilor John Mullaney for the mayor. His ordinance was to the Committee on Ordinance & Rules in August for more study.

Members of that committee met on Monday night to set the parameters for future discussion, which will likely take place in February after the yearly tax rate is set, Council Clerk Jim Casey said.

"This [timeline] just gives me more time to stimulate the conversation," Mullaney said. He urged residents to contact himself and other councilors with their opinions on the issue.

As Mullaney has pushed for a salary increase, saying that the mayor does an excellent job running the town and is significantly underpaid, he has pointed to a list of town employees who earn more than the mayor. Last year, 79 employees made more money, including police officers and others who took in tens of thousands of dollars in overtime and detail pay.

On Monday, Mullaney revised that number upward, indicating that nearly 100 employees will make more than Mayor Joseph Sullivan this year, including his Chief of Staff. But the council's discussion of a raise should not include many of those employees, Councilor Sean Powers argued, because comparing a base salary to a base salary plus overtime and detail pay is comparing apples to oranges.

It is "fair game," though, to include school principals and other department heads in the analysis, Powers said.

In addition, Powers said he would like to see chief executive salaries for those in charge of cities and towns that have operating budgets of a similar size to Braintree. The town's budget, not including the and other enterprise accounts, is about $101 million.

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Casey said he would also collect information on how many town employees the mayors and directors of other towns oversee, how many managers report to them directly and how much they pay their staff.

One potential route for raising the salary is to take the percentage of a salary raise Braintree's managers received each year since the change in government and then add those together to find an appropriate mayoral raise. For example, if the number was targeted at 2 percent annually and five years were counted, the mayor would receive a 10 percent raise, or approximately $10,500, Powers said.

Braintree's mayor should make more than $105,000, Councilor Leland Dingee said. "It's just a matter of picking the magic number."

The deadline for this Town Council to change the mayor's salary is next June, according to the Town Charter. The Charter allows the council to adopt an ordinance changing the mayor's salary during the first 18 months of a term, such as the one that began in January. Any new salary would take effect the January following the next regular town election.

Do you agree that it is time for the mayor to get a raise? What is the best way to determine a public employee's raise? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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