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Police dominate top Somerville earners in 2010

Posted by Marcia Dick  January 13, 2012 04:18 PM

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From street-level patrolmen to the highest levels of the Somerville Police Department, officers topped the ranks of the highest paid public employees in the city, recent payroll records show.

Police Lieutenant Carmine Vivolo was the city's top earner, taking home $179,590, according to records for calendar year 2010, the latest available. 

Of the 111 employees who made more than $100,000 that year, 78 were police officers, most of whom received bonuses as high as 25 percent of their base through the state's Quinn bill, which mandates extra pay for police who earn college degrees.

School Superintendent Anthony Pierantozzi was second highest paid in 2010, pulling down $173,746. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone was scheduled to make $125,000 but grossed $121,408.30 because of furlough days to rank 49th on the list.

Through a combination of extra work that included overtime, holidays, details, and in some cases Quinn bill money, 13 police officers managed to at least double their base salaries.

Officer Fernando Cicerone, whose base was the smallest when compared to his final income, did not receive Quinn bill pay and was scheduled to earn $53,972. But that figure ballooned to $122,423 after factoring in $39,194 in detail hours, $7,030 for working night shifts, $3,941 in holiday work, and $12,048 in overtime, in addition to a smattering of sums for smaller-ticket benefits.

Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello stressed that private contractors — not the city — pay for most detail officers, who must stand watch over road work and at other events where public safety is required.

"I think one of the things that really is a bit confusing ... the details are in essence a private job, a private responsibility," he said, lamenting an "unfair" perception that the city foots the bill.

Pasquarello  — who at $185,000 would have topped the list but was hired in December 2010 — said most officers’ base salaries range near $75,000, and that the other streams of income — such as Quinn bill pay and stipends — are the product of long-standing collective bargaining agreements.

In all, about 96 percent of the roughly $14 million department budget pays for 131 sworn officers' salaries, Pasquarello said.

Unlike firefighters, whose schedules are often conducive to part-time jobs or operating small businesses on the side, Pasquarello said police are more often called back during off hours. He also said injuries and prolonged absences can force the department to pay more overtime hours, just one of several factors that are out of his control.

Court time, when officers are paid when they must appear to testify, is one volatile cost from year to year, Pasquarello said.

"If there are six officers involved in a case, they'll call in all six on the first day of trial," he said, necessitating overtime shifts to fill the absences.

Disasters, snowstorms, major crime, and public safety situations also can require extra shifts, he said.

"I think there may be a perception that a lot of officers look forward to working a lot of overtime," Pasquarell said. "But it's difficult calling officers in."

The top overtime earner, Vivolo, worked $47,676.44 worth of extra shifts. He was also among 36 officers who received a 25 percent bonus on his base pay for earning an advanced degree, the biggest bump allowed by the Quinn bill.

But Pasquarello said officers hired after July 2009 will no longer be eligible for the education pay. So far, 14 have been hired without access to the benefit.

The Globe's records request covered employees who earned more than $50,000, of which there were 875. Next to police, other high paid employees hailed from the top levels of the school department, fire department, and a city administrator.

After Pierantozzi, the second-highest paid school employee was Assistant Superintendent Vincent McKay, who made $119,566.36. Somerville High School Headmaster Anthony Ciccariello,  who is retiring in the spring, earned $109,910.84. Close behind was Catherine Connell, director of special education, at $108,922.

A few school principals cracked the $100,000 mark: Pamela Holmes of the Capuano Early Education Center, $103,326, and Stephen Tuccelli of the Winter Hill Community School, $101,907.

The 286 teachers listed made an average of $68,640. Dolores Porziella was the highest paid, at $87,505.62.

The highest grossing city administrator was Monica Lamboy, who earned $106,830.86 in 2010 as the director of Strategic Planning and Community Development. Lamboy left the post in June.

Matt Byrne can be reached at mbyrne.globe@gmail.com.

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