The Braintree decided on Tuesday night to spend more time reviewing a possible salary increase for the mayor, including looking at options such as cost-of-living increases and performance bonuses in addition to a proposal for a one-time $25,000 boost.
District 2 Councilor John Mullaney that would have changed the mayor's pay from its current $105,000 per year to $130,000, an increase that would have taken effect in 2014 following the next town election.
But on Tuesday, by the committees on Ordinance & Rules and Ways & Means, the full council voted unanimously – with Mullaney himself making the motion – to send the proposal back to the Committee on Ordinance & Rules for further review. Councilors Henry Joyce and Charles Ryan were absent.
"We should study this and all its implications," Ways & Means Chair Paul "Dan" Clifford said. He added that as a "deliberative body," the council should not be "arbitrarily grabbing a $25,000 number."
Clifford instead proposed that councilors examine how a raise would affect union negotiations, whether to instead implement a base salary with stretch goals or provide for a cost-of-living increase, along with other options.
He also suggested looking at how other nearby communities craft mayoral salaries, pointing out that the Weymouth and Quincy mayors earn only $5,000 and $17,000 more than the Braintree mayor and have signicantly larger populations.
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, Mayor Joseph Sullivan sits at number 79, his six-figure salary also pushed down by those earning overtime and public safety detail pay.
Mullaney has pointed to like-sized communities such as Chelsea, Lexington, Natick and Chelmsford, all of which employ chief executives paid more than $150,000 annually, to demonstrate that Braintree's top position should have a more competitive salary.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan in particular has earned a salary increase by improving the town financially and in other ways, according to Mullaney and three residents who spoke at on Tuesday night.
"Since Joe has become mayor, things around here have become awesome," Braintree resident Joseph O'Brien said. "He doesn't do it for the money. I think he's getting ripped off."
Vincent Joyce added that the proposed raise is a "miniscule" portion of Braintree's $101 million annual operating budget. "The proposal eliminates the distortion that currently exists," he said.
Yet the next mayor may not be able to fill Sullivan's shoes, Councilor Leland Dingee said, adding that job qualifications are different for a mayor compared to a police chief or superintendent – two positions that in Braintree earn considerably more money.
"If the mayor is making less than everybody around him, maybe everybody around him should make less," Councilor Ronald DeNapoli said. "In this economy we have to watch every dollar."
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.
Council President Charles Kokoros said that depending on what changes are ultimately brought forward to the full council, they may require an amendment to the town's charter, but perhaps could be done through the council's own mechanisms.
"Certainly the Town of Braintree is in terrific shape," Kokoros said, "and it is leadership that has brought us here."