Mitchell: Pay Raises Passed by New Bedford City Council Still Need to Be ‘Reigned In’
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell joined WPRI 12's weekly television program Newsmakers on Sunday to cap off one of the more headline-grabbing weeks in New Bedford and on the SouthCoast in recent memory.
It was a week that was highlighted by Mitchell participating in a climate roundtable at UMass Dartmouth with Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, his fight with GNB Voc-Tech over its admissions policy start to heat up after his school committee nominee was rejected by the city council, and the city council scaling back 50 percent pay raises they had previously approved for 3 city employees following widespread public backlash.
Mitchell told WPRI's Tim White and Ted Nesi, however, that despite the reductions, the conversation has not ended on the council's approved salary increases for those three positions.
In the Fall of 2022, Mitchell had proposed to the city council a series of pay raises for 151 non-union city positions to bring the salaries in line with what is being offered for similar positions in nearby cities in towns.
The pay increases proposed by Mitchell averaged around 10 percent and were based on the results of a survey conducted by a third-party consulting firm.
However, when the council took up Mitchell's salary increase package, City Councilor Linda Morad put forward a set of pay hikes between $40-50,000 for three positions: animal control officer, director of community services, and director of licensing.
Morad's proposal's amounted to a more than 50 percent increase in pay for those three jobs, and a 50 percent higher salary than what is offered by any other city or town in Massachusetts for the same positions.
The council had approved Morad's pay raise amendments 10-0.
"The city council got a hold of it and started to goose up certain positions for the people they liked. They're focusing on people, and not on the positions," Mitchell said on Newsmakers.
After city residents resoundingly spoke out against these increases, Morad proposed a change to 50 percent pay hikes that she originally championed to cap them at 25 percent at a packed January 12 city council meeting. The council unanimously adopted the reduction.
Mitchell told WPRI that while he still feels compelled to sign the pay raise package to fill the many vacant positions the city government currently has, he thinks the salary increases that were proposed by Morad for those three employees still need a second look.
"I still think there's probably some reigning in that has to be done, and we'll take a look at it when the dust settles and propose some adjustments," Mitchell told WPRI.