Will He Pay Back $190,000 He’s Already Received?
By Josh Resnek
Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s $40,000 a year longevity payment has been reduced to $1,700 following consecutive 6-4 votes at a contentious Committee of the Whole meeting held at city hall Monday night.
Councilors wrangled between themselves about the issue, which many believe stemmed from a consortium of efforts by the city’s lawyers to claim the payment is legal, and by the city’s CFO, who did not list the payment in the city budget and who, when called upon Monday night, refused to comment about it.
First, the city council voted to align the mayor with city department heads by listing him for a longevity payment under city charter ordinance 7-166.
Ordinance 7-166 provides for $800 -$1,300 – $1,700 longevity payments to department heads determined by years of service.
The passage of 7-166 reduced the mayor’s longevity to $1,700 a year.
This necessitated the technical vote to delete ordinance 7-167 of the city budget which allowed the payment of the bloated longevity to the mayor.
Both votes combined to end the $40,000 a year payment, which would have been $50,000 this year.
Councilor Stephanie Smith’s motion to pay the mayor his longevity according to the 7-166 ordinance passed by a 6-4 vote.
Councilors Stephanie Smith, Mike Marchese, Stephanie Martins, Vivien Nguyen, John Hanlon and Jimmy Tri Le voted with the majority.
Voting against the measure were DeMaria stalwarts, Councilors Al Lattanzi, Anthony DiPierro, Richie Dell Isola and Irene Cardillo.
It was the same outcome to strike 7-167.
A large and boisterous crowd attended the meeting in the council chamber.
Marchese was confrontational and righteous.
“The longevity has been abused. Getting paid a longevity of $40,000 to $50,000 a year in a city where so many people are living in poverty just isn’t right,” he added.
He received a hearty round of applause from the noisy crowd.
Councilor Smith’s motion ended up being the nail in the coffin for the bloated and likely illegal $40,000 a year longevity payment.
Martins went along with her colleague’s measure.
Smith did research revealing only five cities have longevity payments for public officials.
She passed out copies of that research to all her colleagues before the meeting began.
Le said he was in favor of making things right for the people.
“By eradicating this ordinance will most likely mollify our residents concern and anger. I am in favor of this motion,” he said.
DiPierro insisted the longevity “makes sense.”
“I don’t know why we’re trying to change this. A five term mayor is worth more than a one term mayor,” he said.
He also complained that the meeting was turning political – a rare admission for one of the most ardent supporters of the mayor, and a cousin as well.
Lattanzi appeared out of sorts. He said he was disgusted by the proceedings.
“The longevity payment is a drop in the bucket,” he told his colleagues. The mayor deserves it,” he added.
Smith’s reasoning prevailed in the end.
“The mayor should have the same longevity plan as any department head working for the city. He should make the same as everyone else,” she said.
Her colleagues agreed.