PEABODY — The city’s five elected municipal light commissioners hope they have better luck this year with their request to the city council for a raise.
Last May, the council refused to grant a raise for municipal light commissioners.
Members of the five-person board of the municipal utility company were requesting a raise from $4,000 to $5,100 per year. The last time the commission got a raise was in 1996, when their pay was bumped from $2,500 to $4,000 per year.
In a letter to the council, Peabody Municipal Light Plant (PMLP) Commission chairman William Aylward stated the commissioner’s salary and retirement is funded through the PMLP’s budget and is paid with light plant revenue.
Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. is supporting the request for the pay hike.
“We are not voting for their raise,” said the mayor. “They are voting for themselves for a raise. They approve the budget, they control the budget that they make and they make the decisions. They need our assistance with moving this forward to the state for a home rule petition.”
Bettencourt stressed that the PMLP budget is not tied to the city budget.
The mayor also praised the job the PMLP did handling power outages throughout the city during the two most recent storms to hit the region.
Thursday night, the council voted to take up the commissioner’s request at the next finance committee meeting. If approved by the council, the measure would be forwarded to the state legislature for its approval.
Last year, the pay raise failed to move out of the finance committee, with several councilors raising concerns about contract negotiations between the commissioners and a union representing PMLP workers. Additionally, raising the salary above $5,000 would make the light commissioners eligible for a city pension and other benefits.