SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 6, 2013

5-year contract for fire chief

Maximum agreement will bring him to retirement age

BEVERLY — Mayor Bill Scanlon and fire Chief Paul Cotter have agreed to a contract that will keep Cotter as chief for another five years.

The deal calls for Cotter to continue at his current salary of $127,808.

The five-year contract is the maximum that can be allowed under the city charter. Scanlon said Cotter has done “an admirable job” and the contract will bring him to the mandatory retirement age of 65 for firefighters.

Cotter, who turns 60 in March, said he could retire now, “but I love the job, and I’ve got some long-range plans.”

“It’s about my commitment to the fire department and the city,” he said.

Cotter joined the Beverly Fire Department in 1984 and succeeded the retiring Richard Pierce as chief in 2010.

Cotter oversees a department with 61 firefighters and a budget of $5.6 million. He said the department has upgraded its trucks and equipment and has increased training. Fire officials are also working on a grant that would add four more firefighters.

“I just want to keep moving forward with increasing the training and increasing the level of expertise,” Cotter said. “I want to make things run more efficiently and save money where we can.”

Mayor-elect Mike Cahill, who has objected to Scanlon appointing members to city boards in the final weeks before he leaves office, said he has no objections to the deal with Cotter.

“I’ve met with the fire chief on numerous occasions. I’m very supportive,” Cahill said. “He needs to be renewed. His contract has already run out. I think it’s appropriate to go forward with a five-year contract, and I look forward to working with him, hopefully, throughout that whole time.”

The City Council must approve the contract. Cotter is scheduled to meet with the council’s Legal Affairs Committee Monday night.

“I certainly don’t have any question about the fact that he’s up to the job and should be reappointed,” committee Chairman Wes Slate said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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