McGonagle Questions Colleague’s Change of Heart on Council Pay Raise

Haverhill City Councilor Michael S. McGonagle.

The winners of November’s municipal election will be the beneficiaries of raises approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The $110,000 mayoral salary, $18,000 council president’s annual pay and $15,000 councilors’ yearly income were recommended by a salary commission appointed by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Councilor were split on the raises, voting 5-3 to approve. Council President John A. Michitson and Councilors Thomas J. Sullivan and Joseph J. Bevilacqua voted “no.”

Councilor Colin F. LePage pointed out it will be the first time in 30 years that city councilors will receive a pay raise.

“After 30 years, we deserve a small increase,” said Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien.

Bevilacqua argued against the raises, saying the city needs to watch every dollar now that Rep. Brian S. Dempsey has retired from the Legislature.

Dempsey’s position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee resulted in extra funding coming Haverhill’s way, Bevilacqua said.

That day is now over and nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

He predicted the losses will have to be made up by increases in taxes, water and wastewater rates and permit fees.

Bevilacqua said the decision of whether to support the raises should be based on what benefits the city and its taxpayers.

“I can’t find any way I can say increasing City Council salaries will benefit the city … or the taxpayer. I can’t find any way to justify this.”

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle said the raises benefit the city in several ways, including attracting high-quality candidates and creating an opportunity for more people to serve.

McGonagle questioned Bevilacqua’s support for School Committee raises when he was a member of that board.

”In 2014, you were one of the driving forces for the increase on the School Committee and to borrow your words, I don’t see how that benefited the city.”

Councilor Andy X. Vargas agreed with McGonagle that the salary increase could result in more civic participation.

“We might attract people who never considered public service before, like a single mom, elderly person, or a low-income resident,” Vargas said.

Vargas, who has announced a run for Dempsey’s seat representing Haverhill in the state House of Representatives, said if he were on the council and received a raise, he would use the money on city business.

“If I received the increase I would be dedicating it towards purchasing ClearGov, so we can save more money and be more transparent about city finances,” Vargas said.

Councilor William J. Macek pointed out that anyone who opposed the raise could refuse it, or reject a salary altogether.

Michitson said that if he were to win a seat on the council next year, he would donate the amount of his raise to charity.

5 thoughts on “McGonagle Questions Colleague’s Change of Heart on Council Pay Raise

  1. A raise in the pay for the Council: Not a small one either. his will also increase the retirement benefit when they leave office. I really feel that the argument ” the increase will bring about an increase in the amount of competition for the office is poor at best How about lets be more fiscally responsible as we meet to embrace the deficits that we are surely facing ahead,
    Keep in mind that the family medical plan that each Councillor receives is in the range of a cost to the city of $12,000.00 to $15,000.00. The health Insurance plan should be the only benefit that the Council members receive.

    I will support Councillors Sullivan, Bevilacqua,and Michitson, It is my sincere wish that the remainder of the Council members not be re elected.

    I support the increase for Mayor Fiorentini who has performed in such an outstanding manner and brought about so many positive changes to Haverhill..

    How about valid increases to those who most deserve recognition and salary increases: Haverhill Police Department, Haverhill Fire Department and the educators of our future the teachers and staff. All of whom have received much less than they deserve

  2. Benefits and now a raise??!!??
    Wasn’t the salary posted when they decided to run for office???
    How many of them collect benefits from their employers? Most are self employed.

    Save the “I’m donating my raise to charity” garbage. Are your going to donate that raise in your pension as well???
    Bunch of phonies

  3. The idea that city councilors decided to increase their own pay because it will encourage people to run against them is patently absurd. The logical meaning of their insultingly condescending excuse for raiding the public treasury is that they’re saying is “the only reason we got elected is because the pay isn’t enough to attract more qualified people.”

    No raise in 30 years? Maybe some enterprising reporter can tell us just how much their compensation has gone up because of higher city-paid health insurance and pension benefits.

    And no, Master Vargas, giving you more money won’t encourage low income people to launch a campaign for city council; not without district elections which strikes fear into the hearts of every member of the council

    • Exactly Jim!!

      In Acorn Andy’s world of being indoctrinated into socialism at Boston University I surprised he didn’t come out and name the liberal special interest groups he’d like to see representation from. In his mind, with more money folks representing the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ community will be running to city hall to take out papers.

  4. Isn’t it interesting that lost in the hysteria of Dempsey resigning there hasn’t been one mention of, or one public comment from Haverhill’s other State Rep?

    Where is she?