The Melrose Board of Aldermen approved Mayor Rob Dolan's proposed 26 percent pay increase at their meeting Monday night at City Hall.
After hearing from more than a dozen residents who supported the raise and a few opposed to it, the Aldermen ultimately approved the pay increase, 8-3. Aldermen Donald Conn, Jr., Jaclyn Bird and Monica Medeiros opposed Dolan's proposal.
The Aldermen followed in the footsteps of the Appropriations Committe, which voted 8-3 to recommend the mayor's pay increase at their Jan. 28 session. With the committee comprised of Aldermen, the Aldermen that comprised the dissenting vote reiterated their stances from the week prior.
"I would support an increase in the mayoral salary, but not $125,000," Conn said, adding that the amount was not an appropriate.
Meanwhile, Bird and Medeiros wanted more time spent discussing the proposal as well as additional data collected comparing mayoral salaries of comparable communities. However, fellow Alderman Peter Mortimer said he did his due diligence and was prepared to vote on Monday, which was a sentiment expressed by other Aldermen during their deliberations.
"I don’t like when we drag things out, especially when it could get divisive," Mortimer said, adding that "statistics can dance" to favor one side or the other even if more time were spent reviewing the proposal.
In a Dec. 26 letter to the Board of Aldermen, Dolan requested a pay increase from $99,896 to $125,000. In a Jan. 15 letter to Aldermen, the mayor wrote, "I respectfully request that this Honorable Board amend Melrose Revised Ordinances, Chapter 48-1. Mayor. Part A. Salary, to read as follows: Effective January 1, 2014, the salary for the position of Mayor shall be $125,000 per annum."
Following the vote, Dolan spoke briefly about the Aldermen's decision to approve the pay increase.
"It's a very emotional issue. It's emotional to me personally and emotional to people on both sides," Dolan said. "I think I would echo Aldermen Conn's opinion that there are divisive issues that come about, but as a whole we have been able to have an extraordinary city council, Board of Aldermen here in Melrose, and we will work together Democrats, Republicans, Independents and that's going to continue because Melrose is more important than any vote."