Why Boston is in trouble – 8,451 highly paid city workers paid $100,000 and more cost taxpayers $1.2 billion

Boston ranks among the 30 most economically powerful cities in the world. It is a center for scientific research, a world leader in higher education and a pioneer in innovation.

However, none of this was enough to stop the city from ranking among the worst tax and spendthrift offenders in the country.

Recently City Council faced a $65 million budget hole last year but still voted for to augment expenditure of $119 million. They were probably counting on a bailout from the American taxpayer.

Then, in March, Congress bailed out Boston with $434 million from the American Rescue Act. But the actual amount of congressional assistance, according to a city spokesperson, was closer to $700 million.

It’s no wonder the city can “afford” to pay its employees so much.

Our OpenTheBooks.com auditors found that nearly 8,500 city employees earn more than $100,000 a year, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion. You can review the 2.1 million six-figure public employees across the country on our interactive map.

In 2020, Boston’s highest-paid employees included the mayor at $199,000; the “Deputy Chief Registrar of Electors” who won $233,515; an assistant fire chief with a salary of $332,573; police officers who earned up to $365,001; and 600 city employees who have made between $50,000 and $175,100 in payment of overtime.

We found 31 employees whose overtime pay outmoded base salary. Inspection departments had the top two overtime earners: a wiring inspector earned $267,245 ($175,138 overtime) and a chief electrical inspector earned $269,245 ($165,122 overtime).

A spokesperson responded to our request for comment, justifying the six-figure overtime payments.

Mayor’s office – $5.2 million payroll

In 2020, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh earned $199,000, more than 48 out of 50 governors earn. Mayor Walsh’s staff of 68 outnumbered Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s staff. which employs only 60 people.

Walsh’s staff includes three photographers who have each earned between $74,000 and $85,000. Photographer salaries and benefits collectively cost taxpayers more than $300,000 a year.

Recently, President Joe Biden chose Walsh as the new Secretary of the US Department of Labor.

Public schools – $580.5 million payroll

Public School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius ($311,711) is the highest-paid municipal employee who isn’t a police or firefighter. Cassellius far surpassed US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona ($192,500).

Public schools employ 5,121 teachers with an average salary of $93,193. With benefits, we estimate that each teacher costs taxpayers $120,000 each year.

Public schools did not resume full in-person learning until April 2021.

Police Department- $416.3 million in payroll

The city’s 3,142 police department employees cost taxpayers $416.3 million in cash compensation last year, an average of $132,500 per employee. Of the 500 highest-paid city workers, 365 worked for the police and earned at least $215,000 (all but six of the others worked in the fire department).

The city’s eight highest-earning employees were police officers — lieutenants, detectives, sergeants, and captains — earning between $332,907 and $365,001 in cash compensation, not including benefits and perks.

Police Chief William Scott earned $259,615 before his retirement.

The Career Incentive Pay Program, dubbed The Quinn Bill, provided pay raises of 10 to 25 percent to police officers with advanced degrees in criminal justice. The raise added nearly $30 million in cash compensation to 1,384 officers, an average salary of $21,340 per officer.

Overtime pay added another $78 million to the payroll, which provided 2,521 employees with an average of $30,100 per person.

In 2020, the city saw a 5% drop in crime, but homicides and shootings rose about 50%, according to department statistics.

Fire Department – $264.2 million in payroll

The fire department had two chiefs last year. Chief John Dempsey replaced outgoing Chief Joseph Finn in May 2020.

Last year, before retiring, Finn received $293,729, including $56,730 in base salary and $236,998 in “other compensation.” Dempsey received $284,729 in cash compensation.

Only 58 of the 1,693 firefighter employees does not have took home more than $100,000 in cash compensation last year, and 1,000 employees earned more than $150,000.

The department’s top salary went to two deputy chiefs, Michael Hocking and Michael Doherty, who brought in $332,573 and $309,925, respectively.

Hocking earned his salary by combining base salary ($200,190); overtime ($67,445); detailed compensation ($34,272); compensation for injured ($20,935); and other compensation ($9,728).

A spokesperson responded with full context regarding the department’s 2020 pay during a pandemic.

Public Works – payroll of $26 million

The public works department’s highest-paid employees included Brian Coughlin, the sanitation superintendent, who raised $202,872. Norman Parks, Assistant Superintendent of Street Operations, took home $194,145 and Scott J. Alther, Superintendent of Automotive Maintenance, earned $189,780.

Public Works employs a staff of 1,790, including code enforcement officers ($101,909), automotive equipment mechanics ($122,677) and logistics specialists ($155,485).

The department paid $3.4 million in overtime, an average of $9,621 per employee.

Parks Department – $16.8 million payroll

Stephen Passacantilli, director of operations for the parks department, earned $154,300, with a base salary of $127,050 and $24,883 in overtime, plus $2,416 in “other” salaries.

Commissioner Ryan T. Woods came second in total income, earning $137,596, with a base salary of $135,000 and $2,596 in “other” salary.

Other six-figure positions include general maintenance managers ($113,637); park rangers ($114,806); and managers of green tree maintenance crews ($130,784).

Overtime cost $1.6 million, or an average of $7,980 for the 196 people who received the extra pay.

Property management – $10.8 million payroll

Two executive assistants in the property management department, Leon Graves and Kenneth Ryan, earned $189,899 and $169,685 respectively in total salary, making them the top earners in the department. They outscored Acting Commissioner Indira “Indy” Alvarez ($133,412).

Overtime led the competition at the executive level, with Graves earning $64,220 in overtime and Ryan $41,346. The department paid $2.5 million in overtime to 118 people, an average of $21,422 per person.

Nine Property Management employees earned more than $50,000 in overtime alone.

Deputy Commissioner Joseph Callahan cited the COVID-19 pandemic as an explanation for the department’s overtime pay: “2020 has been a very challenging year for the property management department due to the Covid pandemic,” said- he told Open the Books.

Boston’s long-term financial picture looks grim, and it’s largely determined by employee compensation and benefits.

The city guaranteed $5.7 billion in bonds, pensions for public employees and health care for retirees. Each city resident owes $12,000 just to cover unfunded liabilities, according to data provided by the tax accountability organization Truth In Accounting (2019).

However, at the end of the day, Boston is a progressive utopia, so well-meaning tax hawks are going to have to shout a lot louder, or they won’t even have a voice at the table.

To note: The city only paid cash compensation, i.e. wages, overtime, other remuneration, etc. The costs of retirement benefits, health insurance, paid vacations and other benefits were not included – and, if they were included, we used an estimate of 30%. .

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