Pay raise, details helped police earn most in 2018

Feb 7, 2019 by

Published February 8, 2019

By BOB BURGESS

MELROSE — Thanks in part to a three-year, lump sum retroactive raise paycheck in June, 32 members of the Police Department were among the top 50 paid city employees in 2018.

Police also benefitted from tons of detail work that continues to be available to them around Melrose. David Mackey, for example, made $120,463 performing these types of jobs last year. Paul Sasso worked $105,772 worth of details in 2018, while Jon Piasecki earned $104,773 in details.

The information used in this report is supplied by City Hall and is based on an employee’s W-2 earnings in 2018, which the Weekly News does not have access to. The full list of the top 50 city wage earners appears inside this week’s paper.

Mackey’s detail pay, coupled with the $135,950 he made in base salary, overtime and contractual stipends, made him the top earner last year. 

Of the top 20 paid city workers last year, only two — schools’ Supt. Cyndy Taymore and DPW Director John Scenna — were not a police officer. The number of police making the 2018 list is exactly what it was in 2017 — 32. As of this week, there were 34 patrolmen in the department, along with nine sergeants, four lieutenants and Chief Mike Lyle.

The superior officers in the department — the bargaining unit that includes sergeants and lieutenants — received pay raises retroactively that cover fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

For 2018, the School Department placed one fewer member — a total of five — on the top 50 wage earner list than it did in 2017. There were also four Fire Department members and three DPW members, including Scenna, among the top 50 paid municipal employees.

Also on the 2018 list are city Auditor Patrick Dello Russo, Neal Ellis of the Information Technology Department, City Solicitor Robert Van Campen, Denise Gaffey of the Planning Department, Mayor Gail Infurna and Human Resources Director Marianne Long.

At least one on the list of the top paid city workers — Police Chief Mike Lyle — takes care of his own insurance, which is reflected in the gross salary of $140,577 earned in 2018. Also, he is paid $3,000 for being elected to serve on the city’s Retirement Board, which is also part of his gross pay. Neither of those categories is considered pensionable.

The chief also defended his men’s ability to earn money through paid private details, saying there is a “considerable benefit to the officer and to the city as well.”

For example, the city charges private companies a 15 percent administrative feel to process detail work. The money the city realizes from many details the police work goes back into the city’s General Fund, and is not necessarily directed back toward the Police Department’s annual operating budget.

The School Department was led by Taymore’s $181,972, up from the $177,000 she earned in 2017. The next highest paid School Department employee was Assistant Supt. for Pupil Personnel Services Patricia White-Lambright, who earned $141,211 last year.

An employee’s gross pay includes all stipends he enjoys, any contractual reimbursements, any overtime pay and any money made performing private details.

The fact Melrose is involved in the state’s lucrative Quinn Bill designed to reward some police for furthering their law enforcement education helps members of the local department earn their way onto the top 50 list every year.

Some younger department members receive less from the Quinn Bill than longer-serving ones do because of collective bargaining agreements.

The ones who quality for the biggest Quinn Bill benefits get 25 percent of their base pay added to their compensation each pay week if they have a master’s degree; 20 percent if they have a bachelor’s degree, and 10 percent extra if they have an associate’s degree.

Certain officers also get extra compensation for working night shifts, weekends and holidays.

All firefighters receive a small amount of money for working at night; some also work private details.

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