A salary raise may still be in the cards for Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, after the Town Council decided to send the issue back to committee for further study.
In a meeting Tuesday night, councilors discussed a pay raise, although neither the Rules and Ordinance Committee nor the Ways and Means Committee recommended the increase.
Regardless, Councilor John Mullaney, who proposed the pay hike, remained adamant that a $25,000 pay raise, which would bring the mayor’s salary to $130,000 a year, was necessary.
“Throughout my term in office, I thought it was my responsibility as a councilor to stimulate conversation in this town on different issues,” Mullaney said. “[And in Braintree] there are 78 people in town who make more than the mayor.”
Saying the mayor has notably helped the town in the four years he has been in office, Mullaney cited commercial growth, improvements to the town’s park spaces, and updates to infrastructure.
“Finally, I believe that giving a reasonable salary to the person who will be mayor will draw out the best and brightest [for future elections],” Mullaney said.
Councilor Ron DeNapoli suggested that rather than raising the mayor’s salary to meet other officials in town government, the town lower the salaries of those who have higher payrolls.
“In this economy we have to watch every dollar. It’s crazy out there. Granted, the mayor has done a fantastic job, can't think of a person I want running the town, but we have to be slow and careful. … When I talk to people, they are outraged people are making so much money while people are out of work,” he said.
Councilor Paul “Dan” Clifford agreed that the mayor’s work ethic warranted a raise, but said he would like to see the council look forther into it before voting on it that night.
“We should be deliberative and study it. The final product will be much better,” he said.
Clifford also said that when looking at a population standpoint, the salary makes sense.
In Quincy with a population of 92,000, Mayor Thomas Koch makes $123,000. In Weymouth, with a population of 52,000, the mayor receives $110,000. Braintree’s population is at 35,000, and so fittingly the mayor receives $105,000, he said.
“There are some things we can look at. Is compensation based on the number of residents, on education, and ... what do [other towns] have as a policy or procedure that we can look at and bring best practices to Braintree?” Clifford said.
Councilor Chuck Kokoros suggested that the town put in a mechanism for increasing the compensation number on an annual basis, due to cost-of-living and other factors.
"If we set it up so future councils don’t have to make big leaps in salary increases and set it up with incremental based on cost of living, that would be fair, equitable,” Kokoros said.
Several residents attended the meeting to speak in favor of Sullivan and a potential raise.
“The selectmen never lived up to what I thought this town could be. Since Joe became mayor, things have become awesome. Everything is so much better,” said Joe O’Brien, a Braintree resident. “He’s getting ripped off, and we as a people owe him this… He loves this town, and we’re doing him a great disservice. …I’d give him $180k, and you’re quibbling over $25k? You don’t have to explain it to us, let me explain it to you: we owe it to this man.”
Ed Talbot, also a Braintree resident, agreed that because the mayor is expected to always be on call, he deserves a higher salary.
Mullaney proposed that the issue be sent back to the Rules and Ordinance Committee for further study, and councilors voted 7-0 in favor.