EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 23, 2013

Andover Police Chief: I wanted to stay

Contract dispute led police chief to retire

By Dustin Luca
dluca@eagletribune.com

---- — ANDOVER — Police Chief Brian Pattullo says he would have preferred to stay on the job for another three years, but instead he will retire in July because he and Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski were unable to reach a contract deal.

When he leaves, he will do so on a $169,600 salary and with enough unused time off to buy back and generate a hefty lump sum payment. He will also receive a pension he’s paid into for 32 years, all the while also working full-time for a private security firm in Boston.

“You might ask if I was interested in staying,” Pattullo said in an interview yesterday.

If asked, his answer would be “yes,” but it was Stapczynski saying “no” that, ultimately, led him to retire from the department to take a job in the private sector.

On July 31, “the magic numbers” will be lined up in Pattullo’s favor. He will be 55 years old with 32 years of service to the town, both of which must be hit before he can officially retire and start collecting his pension, he said.

But he wanted his time in Andover to end differently, he said.

Pattullo has months of unused sick time — the amount of time reaches beyond the 120 days threshold that limits what an employee can buy back at the end of his or her career, according to Stapczynski.

Barring a long-term disability from injury or illness, Pattullo will get 120 days of sick time in the form of a check on his final day of work, Stapczynski said.

Pattullo also has 39 days of unused vacation time. He has a week of vacation planned later this year, but he’ll also get 30 more paid days off — six weeks worth — once he hits his anniversary in July, Stapczynski said.

With so much to buy back, as it came time for Stapczynski and Pattullo to bargain on a new contract last year, Pattullo started pressing for a three-year deal that dropped his salary but included payment of that buyback over the life of the contract, he said.

“That calculation would have produced a savings to the town, because some of those years would have been at a lower rate of pay, so it would have been a little difference. It wouldn’t have been a large, lump sum payment,” Pattullo said. “After my negotiations with him, he opted not to go in that direction. At the same time, I was approached by a firm and offered a position in the private sector.”

“I decided to go in that direction,” he said.

When asked about the failed deal, Stapczynski declined to comment.

Paul Salafia, Board of Selectmen chairman, said he was aware of the contract but not part of the negotiations. Beyond that, he said he “won’t comment. Way too personal.”

With advance warning of his retirement so the town could find and transition a replacement, Pattullo benefited from a salary increase. His final year of pay jumped from a budgeted $162,781 to $169,600, according to Stacpzynski.

The sick time he’s buying back, and whatever he buys back from his vacation time, will reflect that increased salary. His pension will as well, Stapczynski said.

He will start collecting the pension, the terms of which are still not clear, while also working full-time as the chief operating officer of a Boston-based security firm that he declined to name.

When asked how he felt after the negotiations for his new contract ended the way they did, Pattullo laughed and said, “I feel great now.”

“I’m at a point where I’m at the max of my retirement. If I stay beyond that, it’s a losing deal for me,” he said. “If you stay beyond your retirement years, you start to lose money.”

But at the same time, with 32 years in Andover after starting as a patrolman in 1981, it’s hard not to look back.

“I have a vested interest in the police department, the town of Andover, and its citizens,” he said. “I have mixed feelings about moving on. But I think at this point, we’re into the process now, nearing the end. I’m happy with the decision I made. It’s going to be healthy for the town, and the police department.”

Stapczynski is slated to present Andover Police Sgt. Pat Keefe as the next chief to the Board of Selectmen Monday at 6:30 p.m. Keefe takes over Aug. 1. His salary is still being negotiated, Stapczynski said.