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October 8, 2012

Methuen officers up for raises 10 percent raise, fitness bonus

METHUEN — The city’s police patrolmen will be in line for a 10 percent raise next summer under a new contract proposal, a bump city officials said equated to the cut they took in 2009 and makes up for reductions in education incentive pay increases.

City councilors passed the new contract last Monday on a 6-2 vote, with councilors Ronald Marsan and Jeanne Pappalardo voting no. Council President Jennifer Kannan abstained. The contract must pass one more vote before going into effect. Councilors approved a new contract for middle management employees that includes a 5 percent raise, though on a 5-4 vote.

“It strings out 2 percent over course of the last five years,” Mayor Stephen Zanni said of the patrolmen’s contract. “The Quinn Bill will no longer be in existence. That’s a tremendous savings.”

Marsan and Pappalardo, who voted against both contracts, said the votes were not personal and complimented the employees, but were adhering to campaign promises to not raise taxes for any reason.

“First and foremost, during the election season I had taken a no-tax-increase pledge. That is the main reason,” Pappalardo said. “Secondly, the other reason is I believe the taxpayers of Methuen have paid their share. I think we’re still in not a very good economy.”

The Quinn Bill is the name of a 1970s-era state law that encouraged police patrolmen and senior officers to pursue education in return for an increase in base pay of as much as 25 percent. The Commonwealth and each municipality split the increased salary down the middle, but the Legislature in 2009 stopped funding its portion.

Methuen has been paying the full amount – the Commonwealth and the Methuen portion – of Quinn Bill raises. For new hires starting next year, the state incentive system will be replaced with a flat increase of $2,000 for an associate’s degree, $4,000 for a bachelor’s degree and $6,000 for a master’s degree.

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