METHUEN — The City Council will meet in closed-door executive session tonight with Mayor Stephen Zanni to discuss settlement negotiations with police Chief Joseph Solomon.
The sides are also scheduled to appear in federal court tomorrow to update Judge Mark Wolf on the status of settlement talks.
Settlement negotiations between the mayor and chief began in April. Zanni extended a settlement offer to Solomon Feb. 1 and Solomon countered with a follow-up offer Feb. 15. The mayor and chief also met to discuss negotiations on Thursday.
“That’s all we know so far,” said City Council Chairman Sean Fountain. “The details are going to be discussed Monday night. That’s what we’re waiting to hear.”
The executive session is slated for 6 p.m. at City Hall inside the city solicitor’s office. The meeting agenda states the closed-door session will be held “for the purposes of discussing negotiations regarding litigation.”
No vote on the settlement is expected tonight because the City Council will not reconvene in open session after the meeting.
But depending on what they learn from Zanni, Fountain said councilors could exit the executive session prepared to call for a special meeting later in the week to vote on a settlement. They could also direct the mayor to make another settlement offer, he said.
“My hope is that the two sides came a lot closer so we can get this thing finished,” said Fountain. “The ultimate goal is to put this thing in the past. ... We’re hoping Monday that both parties have come closer in their talks.”
Settlement talks can continue after tomorrow’s scheduling conference at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston.
Lawsuits between the police chief and city stem from Solomon’s firing in 2008. The City Council also cut his $158,295 salary by $25,610 in 2007. Solomon returned as chief in 2010, after the state Civil Service Commission reduced his punishment to a one-year suspension. The city’s appeal of that decision was rejected by a judge in July.
The chief filed a federal suit in May 2011, accusing former Mayor William Manzi and the city of “unconstitutional and retaliatory actions” for “illegally” firing him. The city has filed counterclaims against Solomon to recoup nearly $200,000 it repaid to the federal government. The city claims the chief did not fulfill contractual duties in overseeing federal grants.
City councilors indemnified Manzi in September 2011, granting him personal legal protection in the suit because he acted “within the scope of his official duties” as mayor when he fired Solomon. Manzi served as mayor from 2006 to 2011.
Zanni recently hired the private law firm Murphy, Hess, Toomey and Lehane to represent the city and Manzi in the suit.