Mayor Joseph Sullivan said he stayed out of the months-long debate over a mayoral salary raise to avoid influencing the outcome, saying that the Town Charter places the responsibility soley on the shoulders of the Town Council.
"It's an awkward discussion to be in," Sullivan said on Wednesday. "I appreciate the gesture."
The Town Council voted to increase the mayor's salary from $105,00 to $125,000 earlier this month.
Councilors considered the merits and parameters of a raise for seven months before deciding on the increase. The $125,000 figure, recommended by the Committee on Ways & Means, came from combining incremental raises based on the Consumer Price Index to the mayor's base pay through 2014 and adding several thousand dollars.
Sullivan said he did not initiate the raise, and that he decided to let it pass into law without his signature because signing the ordinance would have been an endorsement, not appropriate for the current occupant of the position.
"Candidly, that's the only way I could have handled it," Sullivan said. "I had to let it play."
The raise was officially adopted last Friday and signed by Town Clerk Joe Powers but not Sullivan. In a letter marking its adoption, Sullivan outlined his thoughts to councilors.
"While I appreciate the thoughtful effort and due diligence exercised by members of the Town Council in arriving at what you deem to be a fair and reasonable salary for the position of Mayor of our Town, I trust you will likewise appreciate the awkward situation in which l am placed by virtue of the provision of the Town's Charter requiring that l approve or reject measures approved by the Town Council," Sullivan wrote.
The increase will take effect in January 2014, at the start of Sullivan's seventh year in office. The salary will remain at $125,000 until the council acts. Councilor Leland Dingee said he plans to bring back for further consideration a proposal to tie the raise to a management pay scale.
"I'm glad it's over because we have more important issues to deal with going forward," Sullivan said.