Haverhill’s next mayor could be making $40,000 more annually than the sitting chief executive if the full City Council follows the recommendation of a subcommittee.
The Council’s Administration and Finance Committee voted Monday to recommend the increase in salary for the city’s next mayor as well as a significant boost in pay for members of the Haverhill School Committee. While all committee members agreed with the need for the salary increase, Chairperson Melinda E. Barrett, a contender for the job, questioned whether the amount should be phased in over time.
“I have heard it floated doing $125,000 and then, two more years, do $150,000 and then, by then, they’ll be another committee to look at salaries,” she said.
Although not part of the committee, City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan spoke to the issue saying he disagreed, pointing out that in order to attract quality candidates, the city needs to provide a competitive paycheck.
“I think that’s still too low. In fact, I think it’s a slap in the face to the chief executive for the City of Haverhill. If you want to attract talent, you need to pay the individual what they are worth,” he said.
Salary recommendations came late last month from an independent five-person Salary Review Committee that compared salaries and benefits paid to Haverhill’s lawmakers with other communities of similar size and population.
That report recommended the mayor’s current salary of $110,000 annually be boosted to $150,000 to be competitive.
Ultimately, the committee, composed of Barrett, Council Vice President John A. Michitson and Councilor Shaun P. Toohey, agreed to send that recommendation to the full City Council.
The original report also suggested keeping the salaries for City Council members and School Committee members as they are. Presently, councilors receive $15,000 per year with an additional $3,000 annually for the president and School Committee members receive $8,000 per year. Both groups also receive partial health insurance coverage, a benefit the Salary Review Committee recommended phasing out.
Despite that recommendation, the Committee voted to suggest an increase in pay for School Committee members matching the base salary paid to city councilors. The group also elected not to make any recommendation regarding insurance coverage, in essence, leaving that debate in the hands of the full City Council.