The 19 percent salary increase for Braintree’s mayor will take effect in January 2014, without an endorsement from the current mayor, Joseph Sullivan.
Sullivan announced his decision in a letter to the Town Council dated Feb. 15, saying that while he appreciated the process of raising the mayor's salary, he would not endorse the increase to $125,000 from $105,000.
“While I appreciate the thoughtful effort and due diligence exercised by members of the Town Council in arriving at what you deem to be a fair and reasonable salary for the position of Mayor of our Town, I trust you will likewise appreciate the awkward situation in which I am placed by virtue of the provision of the Town’s Charter requiring that I approve or reject measures approved by the Town Council,” Sullivan wrote.
According to town charter rules, if Sullivan chooses to neither endorse nor reject a measure, it is enacted automatically in 10 days.
"It makes sense the method he used, which I thought he would, because of the conflict of interest,” said Councilor John Mullaney, who initially proposed the salary increase for the mayor’s position.
Sullivan said he felt that the method he chose for passing the council’s measure was appropriate, given his distance throughout the entire discussion process.
“I didn’t initiate the discussion, it’s clearly within the responsibility of the council to decide upon compensation for the mayor’s position. …I think the best way to handle it, which I’ve done from the start, was to not engage in the discussion and leave it to the council,” Sullivan said in a phone interview.
Sullivan said that he appreciated the gesture of the council, given the fact that he would be receiving his first salary increase in his seventh year in the position.
Yet there is more on the table that needed government officials’ attention than this salary, Sullivan said.
“Now we can focus on more important issues, such as our schools, continuing our road program, continuing financial management and snow removal … we can focus now on making some important long-term decisions,” Sullivan said.
Among those decisions will be what to do about the town’s water treatment system. The tri-town system is operated along with Holbrook and Randolph, and needs expansion.
“There are more important quality-of-life questions that will be addressed going forward…we can focus on the real important matters that face the town,” Sullivan said.
A discussion of the mayor’s salary has been ongoing since August, after Mullaney suggested that the salary be raised to $130,000 a year. The change was batted between councilors in a variety of meetings until early February, when councilors decided on the $125,000 number.
Mullaney has said that he initially proposed the salary increase to stimulate conversation about the mayor’s financial value, and also to encourage competition at upcoming mayor races.