Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese once again questioned Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s $180,000 longevity pay during the City Council meeting at City Hall on Monday evening. “How did it go up to $40,000 a year?” Marchese asked. “Someone interpreted it – I’m not blaming anyone.”
Marchese said he wasn’t in office then, but because it’s coming out of taxpayers’ money, he feels a right to become involved.
Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas said internal and external counsel reviewed the ordinance as it was explained – which he felt was ambiguous at best. “The person receiving the benefit gets the benefit of the doubt,” Demas said.
Longevity is defined as an annual payment. Demas said there were two different ordinances proposed, one of which was referred to Ways and Means. He added that it was included in previous budgets, including as a note and as a line item.
“I realize everyone was trying to be nice and give him a bump,” Marchese said. “I didn’t realize they were going to give him a mountain.”
Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins, who said it’s a shame they only found out now, asked Demas if the council can demand the money to be returned.
Demas replied that they’d have to seek legal opinion since he isn’t an attorney. “The night it was passed there wasn’t any discussion,” Demas said.
City Clerk Sergio Cornelio said the original question a few years ago is would it affect the salary.
It included $10,000 per term, in the new charter, and $10,000 back pay for the previous three two-year terms, in accordance with the old city charter. The mayor currently serves a four-year term.
In 2011 voters approved a charter change so that in 2014 the Board of Aldermen and Common Council were replaced by the City Council.
In 2012 the Board of Aldermen and Common Council raised the mayor’s pay from $85,000 to $115,000, effective in 2014.
In FY2018, the City Council voted to increase the mayor’s longevity pay.