METHUEN — New police Chief Scott McNamara inked an agreement with Mayor Neil Perry for a three-year contract with a salary of $229,000. The deal will save the city about $150,000 annually compared to the pay of his predecessor, a city councilor said.
Unanimously approved by city councilors at Monday’s meeting, McNamara’s agreement is a standard pact that outlines his employment terms through October 2024.
“Obviously because of what happened in the past, this is going to be the most scrutinized contract we’re ever going to review. I went through it with a magnifying glass,” said Councilor Mike Simard, a Lawrence police sergeant who worked with McNamara in his previous role as a Lawrence captain.
“Knowing Chief McNamara, he’s probably going to work 20 hours a day for the taxpayers,” he added. “I understand councilors’ concerns because we have been burned in the past. Everything seems to be above board. This is a contract that’s good for the city and good for the incumbent chief — one he deserves.”
McNamara, 51, was sworn in Tuesday during a ceremony at Methuen’s Irish Cottage.
He takes over for former police Chief Joseph Solomon, who retired in January after 35 years of often turbulent employment with the city.
According to Solomon’s contract, which was approved in 2017, his salary was calculated at a ratio of 2.6 times the highest paid permanent, full-time police officer.
Last year, The Eagle-Tribune reported that Solomon was earning $25,000 a month — or $300,000 a year.
Solomon has claimed in the past that his salary was actually higher than $300,000 a year. A 2018 story in The Eagle-Tribune reported he was on track to earn $370,000 a year.
A pension worth 80% of that would leave Solomon with a retirement salary of $240,000 a year.
Councilors on Monday were equal parts thrilled to welcome McNamara and glad to see money preserved for city services.
“This contract is going to cost us $150,000 less annually and I’m looking forward to using that money to put it back on the streets and bring in some more patrolmen so we can better serve the community,” Councilor James McCarty said. “I’m happy this (contract negotiation) went smoothly and we’re ready to move forward in Methuen.”
“Congratulations to, I think, the people of Los Angeles: You now have the highest-paid police chief in America,” Councilor D.J. Beauregard said with a chuckle, referencing reports that Solomon previously held that honor.
According to the terms of the contract, McNamara is scheduled to receive a cost-of-living adjustment of 2% on July 1, 2022, and 2% on July 1, 2023. The increases are subject to approval and annual appropriation by the City Council.
One of the things that was important to the chief and the mayor, McNamara said, was that the contract was “completely untethered” from the police unions.
“It’s really important that I be in a position to advise the mayor without influencing the terms and conditions of my own contract,” McNamara said.
McNamara receives 15 sick days annually, which may accrue up to a maximum of 265 days. Sixty percent of those days are payable upon employee separation.
He gets six weeks of vacation and can sell back two weeks annually, subject to appropriation.
Unused vacation time carries over from year to year, though the maximum amount of vacation time the chief is able to sell back should he leave is 10 weeks, according to the contract.
McNamara receives one week of personal time annually that does not carry over, along with five bereavement days for immediate family and two days for extended family.
The city also pays — subject to appropriation — for “reasonable” travel expenses for McNamara to attend professional development courses and other training events, according to the agreement.
His contract includes a section that agrees McNamara can be disciplined or discharged only for reasons of “just cause.” He is allowed to appeal.
The contract automatically renews unless either party notifies the other in writing of their intention to not renew or of their intention to renegotiate with at least 180 days’ notice.