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Cambridge official’s salary is easily tops in state

City’s low taxes, high bond ratings lead to hefty pact

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / February 9, 2011

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In 30 years as Cambridge city manager, Robert W. Healy has worked fiscal magic with a community that has a AAA bond rating and property taxes that, even in the rough economic climate, are well below what the city is allowed to levy.

And he is paid like it.

Healy made $336,317 in 2010, which not only makes him the highest paid municipal manager in Massachusetts, but his salary is double that of the next highest paid managers, according to a report by the website Cambridge Day and the Initiative for Investigative Reporting at Northeastern University.

His deal will soon be sweetened, thanks to a contract he worked out with the Cambridge City Council in 2008 that will boost the cost of his retirement package by at least $1 million to more than $5 million total, the Day report indicates.

According to the report, one of the priciest benefits comes in the form of lifetime nursing home care, through a $400,000 long-term care insurance policy, that applies both to Healy and his wife, Jacquelyn.

He will also receive the state’s biggest municipal pension. If he retires next year, at age 69, Healy will receive $259,245 per year, and his wife will receive two-thirds of that for life if he dies before her.

The pension includes a $39,000 per year boost that was approved by the City Council.

According to the Cambridge Day report, Healy can also retire with an additional $282,000 for unused vacation days, sick days, and compensatory time.

Healy did not return Globe calls seeking comment yesterday. In an interview with Cambridge Day, he admitted that the retirement package, at face value, might not portray him in the best light, but he defended his benefits and stood by his record, saying that his “strong fiscal management over the last 30 years has left Cambridge in extraordinarily strong fiscal condition.’’

“I am worth every penny of it,’’ Healy told Cambridge Day. “I fully realize that the money comes from the taxpayers, but the taxpayers of Cambridge have the lowest residential property tax rate in the Commonwealth.’’

The retirement package is part of Healy’s contract, which he negotiated with a City Council committee, according to Cambridge Day. When the deal was sent to the full council for a vote on Jan. 12, 2009, only one councilor, Craig Kelley, voted against it.

According to the Day report, Councilor Kenneth Reeves said at the meeting that Healy “is possessed with a rare, rare thing, and that is the total and complete and utter love of the city of Cambridge.’’

The Day report indicates that Healy pondered retiring in 2009, and the added benefits were meant to motivate him to keep working into his late 60s.

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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