Salary increases considered for Beverly mayor, city council and school board

June 8 – BEVERLY – The city council is considering whether or not to approve raises for the mayor, city council and school board.

Under the proposal, the mayor’s salary would increase from $120,000 to $145,000; city ​​council members from $11,733 to $14,000; and school committee members from $5,867 to $8,000.

In addition, the salary of the president of the municipal council would increase from $12,333 to $15,000 and that of the president of the school committee would increase from $6,167 to $9,000. The proposal was made by Ward 1 Councilor Todd Rotondo. In a letter to council, Rotondo said city councilors hadn’t received a raise in 27 years, the school board hadn’t had a raise in several years and the mayor’s salary was ‘outdated’ .

“I am convinced that this request is justified and long overdue,” Rotondo wrote.

The city council has the power to grant raises to elected officials, including the council. But no increase would take effect until Jan. 2, 2024, after all of the incumbents’ current two-year terms end. Two years ago, a pay review committee recommended raises for elected officials, but the city council failed to act, citing financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Rotondo said the city is now in better financial shape.

Some councilors voiced their support for the increases at a public hearing Monday night at City Hall. But Ward 6 Councilman Matt St. Hilaire said he believes Beverly’s elected officials are already being paid “fairly and appropriately.” He said the current salary is in line with other communities, noting that elected officials in some cities are not paid at all.

“Last time I looked, the median household income in Beverly was $80,000,” St. Hilaire said. “So a $120,000 mayoral job? That’s a good job for a lot of people.”

“We all have budget priorities,” St. Hilaire added. “It’s a statement of our values.”

Gerry Perry, a city council budget analyst, said the increases would be just $70,000 a year out of a city budget of $170 million. But Middlebury Lane resident Lorinda Visnick, who is also on the school board, said while $70,000 could be a “quote-friendly last straw” it could be used for many other purposes.

“She’s a teacher,” she said. “He’s a counselor for a warming center that we don’t have for our homeless. It’s a ton of meals for those who can’t afford to eat right now.”

“I don’t believe any of the chosen ones are for making money,” Visnick said.

Sonning Road resident Rich Tabbut, who ran for general councilor last year, said there should be ‘no question whatsoever’ that councilors deserved a raise.

“We have a wonderful city council,” he told councillors. “Beverly is very lucky to have you.”

General Counsel Hannah Bowen said she supported the increases to encourage more people to run for office.

“Although none of us serve for money, there are people who don’t serve for money, who can’t afford to have their children kept here, who can’t afford not to have a second job to be here,” she said. “And we want these people to be able to run for office as well.”

Councilors Scott Houseman and Estelle Rand said pay should be more equal for city council and the school committee. Under the current city ordinance, school committee members receive half of what city councilors receive.

“I’m not as interested in raising the mayor’s or council’s salary,” Rand said.

Houseman also said the mayor’s salary should be higher than proposed, closer to $160,000.

Ward 5 Councilor Kathleen Feldman said while it would be “uncomfortable” to vote for a raise, she said it was necessary to attract good candidates.

“Twenty-seven is just too long to not consider an adjustment for the work that’s being done,” she said.

General Councilor Brendan Sweeney said the mayor’s salary was “most crucial to getting it right”. He noted that the city is also considering moving to a four-year mayoral term.

“We haven’t had as much competition in the mayoral races in recent years,” he said. “And that could potentially be a way to make sure that in a city of 45,000, the best candidates show up.”

The city council has referred the matter to its Legal Affairs Committee and will vote on it at a later date.

Managing Editor Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

Managing Editor Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.