Schools had higher pay presence in 2020

Feb 18, 2021 by

Published February 19, 2021

MELROSE — While police continued their hold on the top spots among the city’s highest paid workers, administrators in the School Department inched ever closer in calendar year 2020.

There have now been 32 police patrolmen and officers among the top 50 paid Melrose employees for the past four calendar years. In 2020, there were 10 School Department employees among the top 50, up four from the year before.

A lot of members of the Melrose Police Department continue to benefit from the availability of work details which require their presence to keep both crews and the public safe. David Mackey, the top-compensated municipal employee in 2020, earned $125,397 of his total gross pay of $271,325 rom details in Melrose. Details accounted for $99,970 of James Mulrenan’s gross pay of $266,012, and Paul Sasso earned $138,245 of his gross pay of $2157,240 from details. 

Thirty two police patrolmen and superior officers were in the top 50 paid city workers in 2020. They were led by Mackey and included Chief Michael Lyle, who was 25th on the list and does not work details. Assistant Supt. of Schools for Pupil Personnel Services Patricia White-Lambright was the only city employee in the top 20 paid who was not a police officer.

White-Lambright is joined on the top 50 paid municipal employees list by longtime Supt. of Schools Cyndi Taymore, who earned $131,503 in 2020. Taymore retired at the end of June and was succeeded by Dr. Julie Kukenberger, a first-time schools’ superintendent who is not on the 2020 list of top paid employees.

The information used in this report is supplied by City Hall and is based on an employee’s W-2 earnings in 2020, 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.

Police Chief Lyle defended what his men and women earn in gross pay. “This is not really a fair representation of each officer’s salary. In a lot of cases there is forced overtime because of staffing shortages. It’s like having another full-time job and it takes away from the time they can spend with their families.”

Lyle also pointed out that for every $1 a police officer makes on a work detail, the city gets 15 cents for its adminstrative fee. The money the city realizes from the 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.

For 2020, the School Department had 10 members on the top 50 paid list, up from six in 2019. There was also one member of the Fire Department (Chief Ed Collina), one DPW employee (Director Elena Proakis), Mayor Paul Brodeur, City Auditor Patrick Dello Russo, Neal Ellis of the Information Technology Department, City Planner Denise Gaffey, City Solicitor Robert Van Campen and Human Resources Director Marianne Long.

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 qualify for the biggest Quinn Bill benefits get 25 percent of their base pay added to their compensation each 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.

Of School Department employees, White-Lambright was joined in the top 50 paid employee list by Margaret Adams, Jason Merrill, Leia DiLorenzo-Secor, Taymore, Zachary Best, Michael Tracy, Kristen St. George, Mary Beth Maranto and Milissa Churchill.

Gender balance, while still way off, is inching ever closer among the city’s most well-compensated workers. In 2019, seven of the top 50 wage earners in Melrose were women. Last year, that number was 10.

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