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Saugus cops tops in salary earnings

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a week-long series of stories about municipal salaries in the Greater Lynn area.SAUGUS – Saugus police officers dominated the municipal salary list as top wage earners in 2010.Police Officer Thomas A. Coogan topped the list of the town’s 250 top salaries with a gross annual wage of $168,205, which includes work at private details. In Coogan’s case, $29,397 was detail pay.Two other police officers on the top 250 list – Emir Saric and Timothy Fawcett – earned more than $30,000 each in private detail pay.Only School Superintendent Richard P. Langlois, who earned $152,778, separated Coogan from the next 10 salaries on the list – all police officers who earned between $126,143 and $149,312.In the School Department, Langlois was followed by Saugus High Principal Joseph Dioria as the next highest earner at $114,794. Langlois’ salary increased slightly from the previous year, when it was $151,407.Among key town officials, Police Chief Domenic Dimella’s salary for the year was $147,821, up from $138,205 the previous year. The chief did not receive detail pay.Fire Chief James L. Blanchard garnered the department’s top salary with $124,179, which compensates him for educational incentives and specialized training certifications.Like the police chief, Blanchard as department head received no private detail pay, although some Saugus firefighters were paid for fire watches and duties paid for by private companies. Blanchard’s salary increased less than $200 compared to last year.After the chief, the next firefighter salary on the list belonged to Donald Shea, who earned $109,285. Of that amount, $2,818 was for detail pay.In the six-figure salary range, only Town Manager Andrew Bisignani joined police, fire and school employees with earnings of $115,661.Among all other departments, Department of Public Works employee Thomas Dinocco earned the most with a salary of $89,969, followed closely by Public Works Director Joseph Attubato at $85,813. With few exceptions, Town Hall workers earned substantially less than their police, fire and school department colleagues.A quick analysis of the earnings list shows police officers occupy 33 of the top 50 salaries, while school administrators add a healthy mix to the more than $90,000 category.For example, Executive Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Special Education Cynthia Joyce earned $111,636. School principals topping $100,000 were Oaklandvale Elementary School’s Kathleen Stanton at $101,840 and Belmonte Middle School’s Geoff Bruno at $100,717.”I’m the lowest-paid town counsel in the area, but I’m not complaining,” said Town Counsel John Vasapolli, who earns $50,000. “There are assistant counsels in Lynn who make $90,000.”Longtime Town Meeting member Peter Manoogian said a salary list doesn’t tell the whole story. “You have to look at total compensation, the whole package,” he said.”Saugus may not have the top salaries, but when you add in the benefits, it’s pretty good.”Manoogian noted Saugus pays 90 percent of its employees’ health-care costs, while other communities range between 50-75 percent. “You also have to figure in sick leave buy-back of 100 days at full pay, vacations and other benefits.”Blanchard said his base salary as fire chief without educational incentives or the boost he receives from training certifications puts him among the lower-paid chiefs in the Metropolitan Fire District. “Compared to what other chiefs in the area make, my salary is low,” he said.Bisignani said he, too, is underpaid compared to town managers in similar communities.Donald Wong, chairman of the Board of Selectmen and state representative to Saugus, acknowledged Saugus paychecks may be somewhat lower than surrounding communities. “We may be a bit underpaid, but at this time, with the economy being so bad, it’s very hard,” he said. “We have good police, fire and town employees here. I hope in the future when the economy is better, we can do something to compensate them

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