Overall Payroll Increases, but $100k Earners on the Decline

By Seth Daniel

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The number of city employees earning more than $100,000 decreased for the second time in two years, though the overall city payroll increased by nearly $2 million in 2010.

The City released the 2010 final payroll figures this week, and on the top of that list was Superintendent Paul Dakin – by a long shot.

Dakin pulled in $195,622 in 2010, besting Police Chief Terence Reardon by nearly $35,000.

Reardon made $161,267 in 2010.

Dakin has commented extensively over the years concerning his salary, as he has been the top earner for a number of years now.

This year he said that he appreciates what he earns, and time has a way of making it build up.

“When you’re in a district for a long time it keeps adding on,” he said. “These yearly increases go up over a 15-year time period and it takes it up to a huge salary.”

It is predicted that Dakin will be the City’s first $200,000 earner next year.

In several states, such as New York and New Jersey, school superintendent salaries have come under fire this year.

In New Jersey, the state has proposed putting a cap on superintendent salaries – tying it to performance and the size of the district.

New York state government is looking into similar restrictions.

Nationwide, the average salary for school superintendent is $163,000.

Chief Reardon indicated that his salary is mandated by contract – as is Dakin’s – and that contract follows the guidelines of the state Police Chief’s association.

Overall, the numbers of employees earning more than $100,000 dropped again for the second year.

That has come after an explosion of high-earners over the past 10 years.

In 2001, only one city employee earned more than $100,000.

By 2008, that number had grown to 71.

In 2009, the number slipped to 68 and this year there are 63.

The overall payroll, however, expanded by $1.7 million. Last year, the payroll decreased slightly, which was a reflection of the cutting back of hours and the closing of City Hall on Fridays.

In 2010, City Hall re-opened on Fridays and several employees had their hours restored, which accounted for most of this year’s payroll increase.

Mayor Tom Ambrosino, who falls at number 35 on the list with $118,068, said he didn’t believe that city salaries are out of line with the market.

Including all workers full-time, part-time and per diem, the average salary for a city worker was $36,126.

“I think the health benefits are out of line and that’s something we need to come to grips with, but I don’t think the base pay is out of line with what the market demands for these positions,” he said.

Many critics have indicated that lucrative union contracts are to blame for inflated payrolls at the state and local levels in Massachusetts.

While many private sector workers have lagged in salary and salary increases over the last 10 years, Revere workers have – until recently – seen regular salary increases and far better benefits packages.

Ambrosino said he doesn’t look at the collective bargaining process as an enemy to fiscally sound government.

“I’m a strong believer in collective bargaining as a process because I think it provides fairness to employees and management,” he said. “If the private sector pay rates are out of line, I’m not sure we should be in a race to the bottom…Perhaps the pay for private sector people ought to be raised and the large salaries made by chief executives ought to be reduced.”

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