NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 29, 2013

Council nixes pay raises

Councilors blast critics for tying pay raise to school spending

AMESBURY — The City Council voted unanimously last night to table the issue of pay raises for the council and the mayor, erasing the possibility of a raise, and ending a tumultuous political week in town.

“Essentially, this is a no vote,” said Councilor Allen Neale. “This will end any possibility of a vote.”

Councilors were poised to raise their own salaries from $3,000 to $5,200, the council president’s salary from $4,500 to $6,500 and the mayor’s salary from $80,000 to $90,000. The raises would have taken effect next January, after the fall election and immediately after the mayor and council had taken office.

The city charter dictates that any proposal to change the salaries of the council or the mayor must be voted on within the first 18 months of the term. A discussion that has been tabled cannot be brought up for six months, which will be after the 18-month mark. Because of this, pay raises cannot be proposed again during this council’s term.

The pay proposal met fierce opposition from Amesbury residents after the issue was coupled with layoffs in the school system - something that some councilors had an issue with.

“I don’t understand the link,” said Councilor Derek Kimball. “They are two separate issues.”

Councilor Joseph McMilleon, who was opposed to the pay increase, agreed. “I don’t believe it should be connected to the school situation at all,” he said. “It is not a valid comparison.”

Last week the council voted to approve a school budget for next school year that increases spending by about $900,000. However it was about $600,000 less than the schools needed to keep all programs and staff at current levels. As a result, earlier this week, the School Committee approved several cuts to next year’s budget, which included the layoff of several school staff and significant increases in fees charged to parents for athletics and busing.

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