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Top 100 city paychecks

Posted by Tom Coakley  January 9, 2009 07:31 AM

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By Brian Benson, Globe Correspondent

Police, fire, and school employees dominated the list of Waltham’s 100 most highly compensated municipal workers, according to a Globe analysis of data provided by the city.

Police accounted for 59 of the top 100 employees, led by former Police Chief Edward J. Drew who earned $144,147 during 2007, the most recent year for which data was available. Drew retired in June 2007 after 33 years of service to Waltham.

Many of the other police employees pocketed detail and overtime to push them into the top 100 of Waltham’s roughly 2,000 full- and part-time workers.

Police salaries were also boosted by the Quinn Bill, a state law enacted in 1970 that provides thousands of dollars in salary increases as a reward for officers who further their education in law enforcement or criminal justice through course work and degrees. Those education incentives were included in the officers’ base salaries, according to Waltham’s personnel department.

Current Police Chief Thomas M. LaCroix’s salary for the current fiscal year is $138,808, which includes educational incentives and other additions.

In 2007, Drew had the second highest salary overall, trailing former School Superintendent Susan Parrella who made $166,663 . Parrella’s contract was not renewed by the school committee prompting her departure last summer. Joining Parrella in the top 100 were nine school employees including two assistant superintendents and four principals.

Superintendent Peter J. Azar makes $150,000 for the current fiscal year.

Thirteen fire employees made the top 100, led by Deputy Fire Chief Clifford Richardson who earned $121,027 in 2007, $11,423 of which came from details and overtime. Fire Chief Richard Cardillo made $120,698, placing him 15th on the list. He did not receive any detail or overtime pay.

Besides Cardillo and Richardson, other fire employees in the top 100 included seven deputy chiefs, three captains, and a lieutenant.

Representatives from the Waltham Educators Association and Waltham Firefighters Union Local 866 did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy earned $118,843 , making her the 17th highest compensated employee.

“It’s a true gift to have a city job and I and the people that work for the city appreciate that,” McCarthy said. “I have three rules, get it done, get it done right, and don’t lie to me.”

When hiring, McCarthy said she prefers to promote internally since those workers have already shown loyalty to the city and it is often cheaper than looking to other municipalities.

McCarthy said ensuring the city provides adequate services to its residents is important. However, that becomes increasingly difficult as revenue shortfalls continue.

“The demand doesn’t cease, the need doesn’t cease, but the city’s ability to respond is impacted,” she said of the cuts in revenue. “You have to prioritize.”

McCarthy eliminated 25 positions from last year's budget while reorganizing some departments in an effort to minimize the impact.

Waltham City Councilor Patrick O’Brien said he is not surprised to see so many police, fire, and school employees in the top 100 because they are the largest departments.

“It’s been that way for years,” said O’Brien, who also serves on the city’s finance committee.

O’Brien supported McCarthy’s decision to cut some positions. Balancing the need for adequate services and keeping residents’ tax rates low is especially challenging given the current economic conditions, he said.

“People expect services and you need employees to carry out those services,” O’Brien said. “Whether it’s leaf removal or a flood you want the DPW to come out and fix it. It’s a year to year balancing act that we now face.”

Other departments with at least one employee in the top 100 included auditor, mayor’s office, planning, treasurer/collector, law, building, city clerk, library, health, public works, IT services, recreation, transportation and parking, personnel, and assessor, although none of those sections had more than two employees in the top 100, according to the analysis.

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15 comments so far...
  1. The mayor has three rules big deal to bad she is a liar herself. But then again to be a politician it is a requirement to lie or be a liar. She fits the bill big time on that point.

    Posted by Rick Munro January 10, 09 04:39 PM
  1. Senior personnel such as chiefs and deputy chiefs should be strictly salary and prohibited from enhancements like paid details, overtime, or freelancing or holding other jobs with different employers in their area of expertise.

    Even considering those enhancements, these salaries don't seem unreasonable. People with a great deal of management responsibilities need to be paid market rates. We don't want to lose our best people to other towns.

    Posted by Old Poor Richard January 11, 09 04:14 PM
  1. One should publish the entire list. Then each citizen should note how many people have the same last name,or who are married to the same family.
    I cannot imagine how a small town like Waltham has a budget large enough to support this management overhead.

    Posted by tarheel chief January 12, 09 01:24 AM
  1. No wonder the police don't want to give up the detail perk. Most of the rank and file officers supplemented their pay by 40-50% with details.

    Oh, right it's about 'public safety'.

    Posted by j_s January 12, 09 10:00 AM
  1. You want to know how the city of waltham works,

    The deputy chief has a daughter on the force, who received special treatment to get the job cause she couldnt pass the PAT test until the 5 or 6th time, most people get one shot and done alot of more qualified people got passed over because of her and the former chief. THe former chief, has two daughters, son in law and brother of son in law on the force. Enought said.............................................no special treatment there MUCH...................................... Most of the overtime there is because of grant money and the ranking officers work the overtime not the patrolmen anyways.

    Posted by Rick Munro January 12, 09 03:41 PM
  1. Wow- A state Trooper at the lowest rank makes more than the Waltham chiefs!

    Posted by Gregg January 12, 09 11:40 PM
  1. Why don't you just run every citizen of waltham's paychecks in the paper, be sure to note the ones living off welfare and SS disability! I can't tell you how many of them I know personally who use Fed and State money to take trips and buy drugs. Yet, when your house is on fire or you are in a car accident the police and fire are your bestfriends! Why don't you stand in the cold and put out your own fires with a garden hose in below freezing weather, or next time your house is broken into, try defending yourselves!! Or ask yourself why so many people on assistance drive BMW's, Lexus's, Honda's or tricked out toyota's? The rest of us drive used cars that need way too much attention! Or how about the snow plow drivers who don't even use thier plows to remove snow, they just drive around and look busy while the rest of us snowblow our streets so that the police and fire can respond to the drug overdosed, BMW driving Welfare recipients!

    Posted by Pissed off January 13, 09 11:25 AM
  1. Police saleries are traditionally low in this part of the country. It is a part of the police culture that they supplement that low pay by working private details. The details are not part of a police pension, nor are they paid for by taxpayers. This is a common misconception. Now that our economy is in a dire situation and the future of our cities is unknown, lets attack the men and women who are always there to save us... the police. Makes alot of sense. We all make choices in life. Some chose to become police officers to serve their community. At times, because of their position they are able to make an extra buck or two to make a better life for their families. Im not sure where all this hate for the police stems from, but your energy could be better used thinking of ways to making our country strong again.

    Posted by willis drummond January 14, 09 11:03 AM
  1. Ok so BG goes after Needham. When in Waltham of the 58 people making more then 100k 38 are in law enforcement. Very weird considering were in a recession.

    Posted by 19182004 March 7, 09 05:18 PM
  1. So because Police Officers and Fire Fighters work EXTRA hours they should not be paid for it? I mean all they do is deal with danger, the scum of the earth, bring dead people back to life, and run into burning buildings while all of you are running out. All the while their families are carrying on while they are working 16+ hours a day wondering if its the day that call comes. If you don't make that kind of money I am willing to bet you are not working the same hours or performing close to the same tasks. No one likes to pay these people until its you that are robbed, assaulted, in a crash or your house is burning down. Then you want every badge and hose at your disposal.

    Posted by petey May 19, 09 10:46 PM
  1. Whoa, something is wrong in Waltham. The municipal unions are XXXXg the taxpayers. The mayor doesn't give a damn, she just does enough to get re-elected.
    It's not just Waltham though, it's all over the US. It just might be time for a MIDDLE CLASS REVOLUTION, the likes of which has never been seen before in the history of mankind.
    One ticked off taxpayer.
    Thanks to all those who have fought for this country in the past, currently, and in the future. Have a GREAT and SAFE MEMORIAL DAY weekend y'all.

    Posted by Bo Snerdley May 22, 09 06:42 PM
  1. Old time politics don't work anymore. Ever hear of job re-leveling? Yes, it's been around for years in the private sector. This process is used to weed out people who are making too much money for the job they do simply because they've been around forever. They are not top performers and lag behind in eduction and modern technology skills. Waltham should kick-off a skills assessment process to determine what the folks on the payroll really deserve. You will be surprised how much us taxpayers are overpaying. Would you hire a contractor with limited skills and pay double what you should pay for a contractor with up to date skills? Of course not, then why are you not upset with the huge salaries fire, police and eduction workers are making?

    Posted by Anonymous June 1, 09 05:49 PM
  1. Agree with the other posters: senior salaried city employees should be barred from moonlighting or from bonuses or details. The people and taxpayers deserve these important individuals' undivided attention.

    Posted by Old Poor Richard July 17, 09 03:07 PM
  1. Why both current and former police were paid so high? It is nothing less than
    legalied robbery!!

    Posted by Emily Dershwitz July 26, 09 05:28 PM
  1. In Peoria, IL our local newspaper, The Peoria Journal-Star, published the salaries of both police and fireman several months back.

    The average rookie police officer starts at around $35-40,000 a year. However, the truth of the matter is that in the case of most all police officers -- from rookies to captains, their "real" salaries are on average twice their annual pay. So, a rookie makes $35-40,000 + another $35-40,000 in over-time. So, a rookie in Peoria, IL makes on average $70,000 year!

    The salaries go up with experience and rank. Not to mention their pensions. The situation is much the same with fire department.

    The real problem is that the police department has had a budget for around 14 additional officers, but they stated that they were not able to find the talent to fill the positions -- which in-turn leads to all the over-time. With the recession, the police department let a good 14 police officer go ... yet in truth the 14 positions that could have been let go -- for budget reasons -- could have come out of the budget for the same 14 police officers that are budgeted for, yet non-existent.

    Posted by Global Hemp February 18, 10 12:50 PM