Councilor Calls for Salary Increase for Braintree's Mayor
The salary of Braintree's mayor was set at the time of the change in town government and is lower than many other public employees in Braintree.
The Superintendent, Police and Fire chiefs, Braintree High School Headmaster, Town Solicitor, Director of Finance, School Business Manager, and both middle school principals all have something in common.
They each earned a higher salary in 2011 than Mayor Joseph Sullivan, and by next year the mayor's second-in-command will likely join that list as well.
The mayor's $105,000 salary was set at the same time as Braintree's new charter more than four years ago. On a list of the highest paid Braintree employees, Sullivan sits at number 79, his six-figure salary also pushed down by those earning overtime and public safety detail pay.
"Joe Sullivan has been a hands-on mayor who works 12 hours a day to make sure that Braintree operates at the highest level," District 2 Councilor John Mullaney said in a recent interview. He is pushing to increase the mayor's salary, not just as recognition of Sullivan's hard work, but to put the town in a position to consistently bring in talented leadership.
"We want an attractive salary that will attract the best to lead Braintree in the future," Mullaney said.
The Braintree Charter allows the Town 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, which is in fall 2013.
Mullaney said that the mayor should be placed at the highest pay grade. He suggested $125,000 as a hyopthetical salary, though also said he is open to input and hopes the Committee on Ordinance & Rules will take up the subject.
That salary – $125,000 – would place Sullivan in the range of Headmaster David Swanton, who earned the same amount in 2011, Fire Chief Kevin Murphy ($121,000), Police Chief Paul Frazier ($118,000), and School Business Manager Peter Kress and Assistant Superintendent Maureen Murray (both $125,000).
It would also leave Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurberg ($166,000) and Braintree Electric Light Department GM Bill Bottiggi ($158,000) in the highest salaried spots (BELD is an enterprise account separate from the town's regular operating budget).
Other top government positions among South Shore towns pay considerably more than what Sullivan earns. Hingham Town Administrator Ted Alexiades, for instance, has a base salary of $147,000, according to the Boston Globe. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, Wicked Local reported that Norwell Town Administrator Jim Boudreau earned $127,500.
Last year, a Weymouth town councilor's effort to boost the salaries of the mayor, town council and school committee ran into headwinds, especially from Mayor Susan Kay herself, who said she would have refused the increase to her $110,000 salary, according to the Patriot Ledger.
Sean Powers, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Ordinance & Rules, said that it is important for the council to examine all effects of a salary adjustment.
"Folks need to be mindful that we still have a struggling economy," Powers said. "We would do our due diligence to look at any ordinance that a member would like to introduce."
Leland Dingee, an Ordinance & Rules member, said he is open to an increase, but that he would wait to discuss concrete numbers until there is a proposal before the committee.
"I'm not opposed to it," Dingee said. "I don't think anyone should be in a stagnant job."
The mayor's leadership and performance speaks for itself, Chief of Staff and Operations Peter Morin said in response to the proposal. He said that even if there is an ordinance that moves forward boosting the mayor's pay, it would not take effect for a few years.
As for the likelihood that Morin will soon make more than his boss, considering he only makes a few hundred dollars less now?
"It's an awkward situation," he said.