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February 15, 2013

Council raises mayor's salary

Peabody: Members also vote to hike pay for themselves and School Committee

The Peabody City Council voted last night to increase the mayor’s salary to $105,000 per year.

At the same time, councilors voted to tie their own salary to the mayor’s, providing for it to be 9 percent of his total earnings plus a $1,900 stipend.

Councilor Dave Gamache, who made both motions, noted that neither the mayor nor the council has gotten a salary increase since 2001.

“I believe that the chief administrative officer of the city should earn one of the top 10 salaries,” he said.

Instead, the mayor is out-earned by his department heads, as well as several police officers and firefighters.

Noting that he has tried to increase the mayor’s pay several times in the past, Gamache said he was stymied by the fact that former Mayor Michael Bonfanti consistently declined any increase. If the mayor had been receiving boosts to commensurate with the amounts gained in the city’s union contracts, he would now be earning $123,195, according to Gamache.

“We have to make up for lost ground,” Gamache said.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt currently earns $94,537. He could not be reached last night to say whether he would take the increase.

Gamache also called for a raise for the council, comparing their compensation with other cities, citing more than $15,000 paid in Revere and Lynn and more than $11,000 paid in Beverly. The increase voted last night would raise councilors’ salaries to $9,450.

Set to retire at the end of the year, Gamache would not benefit from the increase, which kicks in January 2014.

Councilor Jim Liacos added that any increase ought to also include school board members, who haven’t seen their salaries increased since 1998. He won support for providing another $1,100 to them, saying, “They work every bit as hard as we do.”

Not everyone was eager to embrace the pay raise. Member Anne Manning-Martin said, “My vote would not be any reflection on the hard work the mayor’s been doing.” But she added, “I will not support the motion. ... It’s more a reflection on the economy and the struggle that people are going through.”

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