MELROSE — More than half of the 50 top paid city workers last year were members of the Police Department, their compensation again bolstered mostly by their continued ability to work private details.
Details, many of them construction-oriented, require the presence of police to keep both work crews and the public safe. Thanks to their availability, work site safety jobs and other types of details resulted in 27 police patrolmen and superior officers placing among the 50 top paid municipal employees in Melrose in calendar year 2022.
David Mackey, for example, made $135,064 of his total gross pay of $305,235 from details in Melrose. Details accounted for $110,340 of Paul Sasso’s gross pay of $225,940, while James Mulrenan earned $101,774 of his gross pay of $280,642 from details.
The number of police on the top 50 paid list is actually less than it was in calendar year 2019, when 32 made the list. In 2022, they were again led by Mackey, followed by Mulrenan, Jon Piasecki, Sasso, Michael Lynch, retired Chief Michael Lyle and Kevin Mulrenan.
Only Supt. of Schools Dr. Julie Kukenberger, who oversees a department that includes around 480 full-time employees, was able to break the police’s hold on the top 10 paid positions last year, coming in at number 8. Seventeen of the top 20 paid city workers in 2022 were police.
The information used in this report is supplied by City Hall and is based on an employee’s W-2 earnings in 2022, which the Weekly News does not have access to. The full list of the top 50 city wage earners appears inside this week’s paper.
Mackey’s detail pay, coupled with the $170,171 he made in base salary, overtime, longevity, sick leave incentive and clothing allowance, put him at the top of the list. Employees also receive money if they opt out of the health insurance plans the city offers.
For 2022, the School Department had seven members on the top 50 paid list. There were also five members of the Fire Department, five DPW employees, City Auditor Patrick Dello Russo, Neal Ellis of the Information Technology Department, City Planner Denise Gaffey, City Solicitor Shannon Phillips and Retirement’s Adam Travinski.
Mayor Paul Brodeur placed 36th on the top paid municipal workers’ list, earning $132,542.
It is important to note that details worked by local police also bring money into the city’s pockets in the form of a 15 percent administrative fee to process detail work. The money the city realizes from the many details the police work goes back into the city’s General Fund, and is not necessarily directed back toward the Police Department’s annual operating budget.
The fact Melrose is involved in the state’s lucrative Quinn Bill designed to reward some police for furthering their law enforcement education helps members of the local department earn their way onto the top 50 list every year.
Some younger department members receive less from the Quinn Bill than longer-serving ones do because of collective bargaining agreements.
The ones who qualify for the biggest Quinn Bill benefits get 25 percent of their base pay added to their compensation each week if they have a master’s degree; 20 percent if they have a bachelor’s degree and 10 percent extra if they have an associate’s degree.
Of School Department employees, Kukenberger was at the top, with a 2022 salary of $189,995. The next highest paid School Department administrator was Cari Berman, the department’s assistant superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services, who made $144,232 in 2022.
In 2022, eight of the top 50 wage earners in Melrose were women.