With two weeks left in this year’s legislative session, Ward 1 Councillor Fred Capone made a last-ditch effort to repeal Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s $10,000 longevity bonus. However, the City Council, during its December 13 meeting, voted 6-4 to retain the mayor’s longevity pay. In addition to Capone, Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese, Ward 4 Councillor Jimmy Tri Le and City Council President Wayne Matewsky voted to repeal the bonus.
“Longevity for an elected official is inappropriate,” Capone said prior to the vote. “There is absolutely no need for longevity. We either serve the residents of this community or we serve one resident of this community.”
Capone said the original Ordinance for longevity pay took effect in 2016, at which time DeMaria’s annual salary was $109,000. Five years later, the mayor’s salary has climbed to $191,475 and has a cost of living adjustment attached to it. “What that means is the salary is going to increase on its own every single year without action by this body,” said Capone.
After the original Ordinance was passed, Capone said, the longevity bonus was subsequently rolled into DeMaria’s annual salary increases. To further complicate matters, the bonus now totals $40,000 per year stemming from an ongoing misinterpretation of the Ordinance. This is in addition to the mayor’s base salary and $6,000 vehicle bonus for a total compensation of $237,475 per year. “It’s caused a lot of problems, it’s caused a lot of confusion,” Capone said of the bonus pay, adding that it is a stark deviation from the original Ordinance.
Ward 5 Councillor Rosa DiFlorio explained the reason behind having longevity pay. “For 30 years, the mayor of Everett never got a raise – 30 years,” she said. “That’s why this was put in place.”
Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins suggested that the council conduct a work session to amend the Ordinance. She also spoke about the vast gulf between the $10,000 that was in the original Ordinance and the $40,000 that is currently being paid out. “I’m very disappointed that this has been happening for all these years,” she said. “It seems like this year, someone that knew about it pointed it out to the council. Shame on that person for knowing it and not saying anything before. That’s where I’m upset.”
Councillor-at-Large John Hanlon said he received $85,000 per year during his tenue as mayor, adding that former Mayors John McCarthy and David Ragucci received that salary as well.
He also recommended that the council obtain an opinion from KP Law. “They don’t take sides with anybody,” said Hanlon.
However, City Solicitor Colleen Mejia said DeMaria is entitled to the longevity bonus. “A longevity payment is an annual payment,” she said.
In addition, Capone presented a Resolution that would require DeMaria to “reimburse the taxpayers and the City of Everett for overpayments in longevity pay received due to an erroneous interpretation of the applicable ordinance.”
Capone said that between January 2017 and April of this year, DeMaria received $190,000 in longevity pay. “Right now, only $10,000 has been earned,” said Capone. “My feeling is that a reimbursement of $180,000 is due back to the taxpayers.”
Capone also maintained that DeMaria’s longevity pay was not openly disclosed in the city’s budget. “Every single department has longevity,” he said. “Longevity is clearly identified. This, however, was not identified. It was hidden, it was concealed.”
The council voted unanimously to refer the matter to DeMaria and his administration.