METHUEN — It’s settled.
The City Council last night unanimously approved a $195,000 settlement and a three year contract for Police Chief Joseph Solomon, putting to bed a six-year legal battle over his 2008 firing and back pay resulting from his reinstatement.
Seven councilors voted in favor of the deal. Councilor James Jajuga abstained because his son and nephew work in the Police Department. Councilor Joyce Campagnone was absent.
Mayor Stephen Zanni said the settlement was required by a 2010 decision of the Civil Service Commission that ordered Solomon back to work that year, overturning his 2008 firing by then-Mayor William Manzi and substituting it with a year unpaid suspension. The city appealed that decision, but a Superior Court judge in 2012 affirmed Civil Service’s action.
“No matter how you cut it up, we owe him that,” Zanni said.
He and Solomon signed the agreement and contract on April 7.
“I was pleased with the council’s unanimous support of the settlement and the contract,” Solomon said after the meeting. “I look forward to continue to work in partnership with the mayor and city leaders to serve the citizens of our community.”
Councilor Ron Marsan asked why Solomon’s contract, which lists the position and responsibilities as “a twenty-four hour, seven day per week schedule,” includes an 8-percent pay differential for working nights. Zanni said that differential was included in Solomon’s past contracts.
Jajuga commended the work on the agreement. “I think you did a wonderful job with the contract,” he said to Zanni. “And Chief, I wish you the best going forward.”
The agreement releases the city of any and all charges he has against it, as well as claims of emotional distress, wrongful discharge and for severance pay. Any outstanding lawsuits are to be withdrawn.
The contract, which is dated March 1, 2014, will last for three years. Solomon’s salary this year remains at $132,980 for the rest of this year. On March 1, 2015, he will receive a 2 percent raise to $135,640, according to the contract. The next year, he will receive another 2 percent raise to $138,352.