Braintree Town Council
Braintree’s mayor will see a 19 percent increase in salary come next election after town councilors voted to bump up the salary from $105,262 to $125,000.
The decision comes after seven months of debate and several rounds of discussion through council committees, where the idea of a salary increase was boiled down to four proposals presented to the council on Tuesday.
The other proposals would have increased the salary to approximately $117,000; increased the salary to approximately $123,000 on a step basis based on longevity; raise the salary to $130,000. Councilors ended up voting for $125,000, with no cost-of-living adjustment included.
Councilor John Mullaney, who initially proposed the salary increase, was pleased with the outcome.
“First of all, my goal was to stimulate conversation and the discussion everyone went through,” Mullaney said. “There were a number of debates, we had seven months of discussion, people in the town were well aware, and every time I saw people they were coming up to me and commenting…and I think the right decision was made.”
Mullaney said his secondary goal was to stimulate competition for future mayoral elections, when this new salary would go into effect.
Mullaney has said the town has been lucky to get current mayor, Joseph Sullivan, but that Braintree needed to do more to ensure successors were of the same caliber.
Representatives from the mayor’s office did not return calls for comment about the new salary, but Mullaney said the change will help bring in experienced professionals.
“This was never about Joe,” Mullaney said of the mayor. “This was just to make sure this is a reasonable salary. I hope this shows that other mayors in Massachusetts are underpaid and they also should get raises.”
The new salary is now higher than mayors in surrounding communities. In Weymouth, the mayor makes $110,000. In Quincy, the salary is as high as $122,474.
Sullivan’s salary initially came under the microscope when councilors discovered that over 70 Braintree municipal employees made more than the mayor.
Since then, that number has grown to over 100 people. This raise will help level the playing field, Mullaney said.
“You’re looking at 100 people that make more than the mayor, and hopefully it’s a lot less [now] but $125,000 establishes a reasonable number, and I’m happy with that.”
Though Mullaney said the seventh-month process was too cumbersome for the decision that was made, Councilor Paul “Dan” Clifford said the process was necessary.
“This was just not a mayor’s pay raise. This was precedent for Braintree Town Council and in our studies what we found is most of the towns…don’t have a process,” Clifford said. “What this did was provide a benchmark, so that any council going forward will have a benchmark from which to go back and take a look at information and data.”
Clifford said the town compiled 342 pages of documentation regarding surrounding municipalities and the pay rate of their top executives.
Clifford declined to speak about his reservations over the size of the pay raise – a concern that prompted him to suggest the $117,000 figure in the meeting, based off a yearly 2 percent increase union groups had seen in the last several years – but said that what mattered moving forward was that the council had made a decision.
“That’s all you can ask for. The most comprehensive study came before the council,” he said.
Councilors initially voted 5-to-3 in favor of the salary, with Councilors Leland Dingee, Sean Powers, and Clifford voting against it. Mullaney asked for a reconsideration, which turned out a 7-to-1 vote in favor of the salary.
Powers was the only dissenting member in the reconsidered vote. Councilor Ronald DeNapoli was absent.