Committee Recommends Raise for Next Haverhill Mayor, Trim of Council, School Committee Benefits

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

An outside committee is recommending raising the salary of Haverhill’s next mayor, while freezing compensation for city councilors and School Committee members and eliminating existing health insurance coverage for those bodies.

Haverhill city councilors tonight formally receive the recommendations—stemming from a survey of comparable cities. No vote is planned, but an agenda item suggests councilors could consider compensation adjustments as early as Tuesday, April 25. The committee recommended raising the mayor’s pay by $40,000 to $150,000 annually, while keeping city councilors at $15,000 each and School Committee members at $8,000 each. The city council president also receives an extra stipend of $3,000. The conclusion on the mayor’s compensation echoed the sentiments of City Councilor Catherine P. Rogers, who introduced the matter during a meeting last August.

“There’s 10 other people that get more money than him and he is the number one person making decisions for everything,” she noted.

Appointed by Council President Timothy J. Jordan, the Salary Review Committee is comprised of Haverhill Bank President Thomas L. Mortimer, chairman, and members Allison Heartquist, Haverhill Public-Private Partnership director; Alexandria Eberhardt, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce president and CEO; Lisa Marzilli, principal scientist at Pfizer; and Graciela Trilla, Hill View Montessori Charter Public School ELE director and Wisteria Montessori School head of school.

Of the suggested raise in the salary of mayor, the committee concluded, “This salary is more commensurate with the 24/7 demands of the office and may draw additional qualified candidates.”

The Committee considered 46 comparable communities in weighing the salary of mayor and compared 35 for city council and 32 for school committee. The Committee also broke out, what it called, a “peer group” of 12 communities and 22 gateway Cities. Members noted the cities of Worcester and Lowell are not comparable since they have appointed city managers.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini told WHAV Monday he cut his own salary when he took office and vetoed a raise later on because of the city’s then-poor financial condition, but things are different now.

“I agree with the committee that now is the time to bring the next mayor’s salary up to a more realistic number consistent with what other mayors make. The number they suggested sounds reasonable,” he said.

Committee members noted the city’s portion of City Council and School Committee health insurance amounts—$7,300 for individual and $17,400 for family plans—are “costly and should not be part of the compensation package.”

This year, voters will vote to seat additional City Council and School Committee members as the city moves to mostly ward-based elections. The City Council expands to 11 members with seven city councilors elected by ward and four others elected at-large. The school Committee will have seven ward members, three citywide representatives and the mayor as tiebreaker.

Noting the additional members, the Salary Review Committee recommended the health benefits “sunset as soon as practical.”

The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7, remotely and in-person at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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