City attorney’s wage and salary classification rejected by council | Merrimack Valley

METHUEN — Although City Council voted 5-3 in favor of amending City Solicitor Kenneth Rossetti’s wage and salary classification plan, the ordinance did not receive the six affirmative votes needed to pass.

Dissenting votes were cast by General Councilor Jessica, Western District Councilor James McCarty and General Councilor Nicholas DiZoglio. West District Councilor Michael Simard was not present at the meeting.

The current classification plan has not been updated since its release on July 1, 2013.

According to the order, the city relied on either “outside legal counsel or in-house counsel, under a personal services contract” before Rossetti became city counsel in January 2021.

The current classification plan has five levels up to $115,972, which is Rossetti’s current salary. The new classification plan also has five levels with a maximum salary capped at $135,000. Had the ordinance passed, Rossetti’s salary would have increased to that amount.

At the June 14 meeting, East District Councilman Steven Saba said that prior to Rossetti’s start date, the city had “extremely high” fees from outside counsel.

“Some years we were looking at over $500,000,” he said. “The solicitor’s wish was to reduce that and handle as much legal work as possible in-house and he delivered on that.”

However, DiZoglio felt differently.

“I hesitate on that,” he said. “We’re not talking about the contract we have with our lawyer, we’re talking about the job. I know we had a contract on the table that was withdrawn. This should be before us right now.

Administrative and financial director Maggie Duprey said there was no contract associated with Rossetti’s position.

“He’s not a department head, he’s not a contract employee,” she said. “It’s on the council’s wage and salary classification, that’s what determines how much he earns.”

President DJ Beauregard said having a salary of $135,000 was necessary to “attract and retain top legal talent”.

“You can’t buy filet mignon for the price of a Happy Meal,” he said. “In the long term, this approach would undoubtedly save taxpayers money, especially since the city had to pay over $320,000 to outside law firms in arbitration with the [Methuen Police] Union of Senior Officers.

Mayor Neil Perry also urged the council to increase Rossetti’s salary.

“He’s worth every penny of the $135,000,” Perry said. “It saves us $200,000 or more, which would cost us the cost of an outside expert’s attorney. »

Police patrol contract

In addition, the board voted unanimously to approve the contract with the Methuen Police Patrolmen’s Association.

The contract will be retroactive to July 1, 2021 and will expire on June 30, 2024.

“Being a police officer isn’t the most glorious job right now,” said Central District Councilman Joel Faretra. “We need to make Methuen an attractive place. We are finally getting out of this dark cloud that has been hovering over this department for many years.