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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,  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 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 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.

Concerned Braintree Resident July 12, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Does anyone know what the mayor actually does? What "fantastic" and "great" job has he done? And to deserve a raise? The few dealings I and others in the town have had with the mayor and his office have not been positive. There are a lot of currupt happenings in that office. The town of Braintree should wake up and take notice. Things aren't always as they seem... just because he's a "nice guy" and "professional" doesn't mean a thing...that's all typical political b.s. Don't you get it? Wake up, Braintree...
Kathleen DeWitt July 12, 2012 at 07:13 PM
If you no of "some"" corrupt happenings then you should go the authorities,with your information. You had better be able to back up that statement because that is character assassination. Also if you read the newspapers and kept up on what was going on in town, you would know what great things have happened to this town since the mayor position was introduced . Nanakate
Chet July 12, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Nanakate, I read the papers every day and honestly can't think of a single "great" thing that has happened in town. My kids' schools are overcrowded, the test scores are mediocre at best, my street is in deplorable condition, my taxes just went up, it takes me 25 minutes to get across town because of gridlock in my neighborhood, and my kids play ball on a field where the little league had to send out a bulletin telling parents to tell their kids not to pick up the needles the junkies are leaving behind. Having said all that, I still think Braintree is a great place to live and raise children. And, believe it or not, I do think the Mayor should get his raise. I just don't see things quite as rosily as you do.
Kathleen DeWitt July 12, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Mack, are you reporting these issues to anybody? I know the schools are overcrowded because our population has increased immensely,over the years. We have an awesome school department and people do move here for that. Maybe we should be opening another school. That would be up to the school committee. Let them hear your issues. The more people, the better the response. I'm not sure I agree with you on the test scores...your street is probably on the list to be done. We can only do so many streets a year. Call the Mayors office and find out if your street is on the list. Are taxes are allowed to go up every year by 2 1/2 percent. We haven't had any layoffs, and we are in a lot better shape than most of our neighboring cities and towns
Kathleen DeWitt July 12, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Sorry Mack my computer to a quick nap and I couldn't finish my reply.People use our town as a cut through and I don't know what can be done about that. I understand your pain about the traffic.It's easier for me to hop on the highway and go north than it is to get to the other side of town. You could call the police department and ask for extra checks at the ballfield to try and eliminate some of that trash problem. A lot of people working together can make a big impact. I do also love living in Braintree. It was and still is a great place to raise children, as I raised mine, and now my grandchildren are being raised here. Hang in there. Kathleen DeWitt

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