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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