Published February 6, 2020

MELROSE — The ability to work details again helped members of the Melrose Police Department take the majority of spots on the list of the top paid city employees last year.

A lot of members of the department continue to benefit from the availability of work details which require their presence to keep both crews and the public safe. David Mackey, for example, made $106,009 of his total gross pay of $237,795 from details in Melrose. Details accounted for $100,566 of Paul Sacco’s gross pay of $210,871, and Jon Piasecki earned $90,638 of his gross pay of $212,941 from details. 

Thirty two police patrolmen and superior officers were in the top 50 paid city workers in 2019. They were led by Mackey and included Chief Michael Lyle, who was 22nd on the list and does not work details. Only Supt. of Schools Cyndy Taymore, who oversees a department that includes about 480 full time employees, was able to break the local law enforcers’ hold on the top 20 paid municipal employees.

The information used in this report is supplied by City Hall and is based on an employee’s W-2 earnings in 2019, 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 $131,786 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 the last three calendar years, 32 police officers have made the top 50 list. There are now 32 patrol positions in the department, along with nine sergeants, four lieutenants and Chief Lyle.

For 2019, the School Department had six members on the top 50 paid list, up from five the year before. There were also four members of the Fire Department, three DPW employees, City Auditor Patrick Dello Russo, Neal Ellis of the Information Technology Department, City Planner Denise Gaffey, City Solicitor Robert Van Campen and Human Resources Director Marianne Long.

Because Gail Infurna left office in the middle of November, she missed a few pay weeks, keeping the mayor’s position off the list of the top paid 50 city employees for the first time in many years.

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, Taymore was at the top, with a 2019 salary of $186,444, up from the $181,972 she made in 2018. The next highest paid School Department administrator was Margaret Adams, the department’s assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning, who made $143,579 in 2019.

In 2019, seven of the top 50 wage earners in Melrose were women.