PEABODY — Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. wants to freeze his $120,000 salary.
“I received a $10,000 raise last year, so this year I’ve requested that I not receive one,” said Bettencourt, who is seeking re-election in November. “The City Council will be receiving that directive this week and I would expect any discussion about raises to be brief.”
On this week’s City Council agenda is whether the 11-member panel should boost the mayor’s salary. But given the mayor’s directive there’s unlikely to be any discussion, said City Council President Jon Turco.
“In order for a raise to be considered, a councilor would have to make a motion to do so, but that’s unlikely now,” he said. “We gave him a 9 percent raise last year and that’s sufficient for his term.”
When Bettencourt was first elected in 2011, the mayor’s salary was $95,000. It had been at that level for a dozen years because former Mayor Michael Bonfanti never took a raise during 10 years in office. Bettencourt, now in his third, two-year term, received raises in 2013, 2016, and 2018.
The mayor’s rejection of a pay hike means the councilors will also go without one. The charter provides the councilors be paid 9 percent of the mayor’s salary. This year, they are paid $10,800, up from $9,900 in 2018.
Like most cities and towns, the mayor is not the highest paid city employee. There are at least 50 employees who earned more than mayor last year. Among the top wage earners was the superintendent of schools, who earned $185,000, the manager of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant at $178,148, the police chief earned $157,499, and the fire chief salary was $150,665.
Among chief executives, Bettencourt’s pay tops Beverly Mayor Michael P. Cahill of $110,000 where the population is 42,000 compared to Peabody’s 53,000. The mayor’s salary is lower than two of the North Shore’s biggest cities including Salem, where Mayor Kim Driscoll collects $150,000, and Lynn, where Mayor Thomas M. McGee is paid $145,000.
Still, Bettencourt said he has no complaints.
“When I ran for mayor I knew what the salary and benefits were,” he said. “I love the job, I love being close to home, and I love being part of the action in the city.”