A proposal to increase the salary of Braintree's mayor by $25,000 failed to garner the support of a subcommittee on Tuesday night, with those arguing against the hike citing its size and ongoing economic uncertainty.
District 2 Councilor John Mullaney that would change the mayor's pay from its current $105,000 per year to $130,000, an increase that would take effect in 2014 following the next town election.
Mullaney, a member of the Committee on Ordinance & Rules, urged his fellow councilors on Tuesday to support the measure in order to alter "a salary that is not commensurate with the responsibilities [the mayor] carries."
He 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.
"I don't want it to be a position where you get a low salary and take tips anywhere else," Mullaney said. "I hope our salary is one that will draw out the best and brightest in Braintree."
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.
Both committee chair Sean Powers and member Paul "Dan" Clifford voted not to recommend the ordinance. Councilor Leland Dingee was absent. The full council is scheduled to take it up at its next meeting on Aug. 14.
Clifford said that the council should have more time to study the issue and consider other alternatives such as setting a base salary with performance bonuses "rather than setting a stake in the ground and saying x-number of dollars."
He and Powers also argued that the economic situation might make residents question such a large pay hike. "In this climate, with as many people that are out of work," Clifford said, "just the image it would send I don't think would be a favorable one at this time."
On the contrary, Mullaney said, the economy of Massachusetts and Braintree in particular is improving. "We're creating job growth" with developments such as those at the , and , Mullaney said. "This town is booming."
The mayor's position is also different than those of other town employees, Mullaney said, because the mayor's reviews take place every four years by election.
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.