Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy won a key decision last week, in her battle to recover apparent overpayments to former Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy while he was Mayor from 2002 to 2010.
The decision was rendered last week when an Essex Superior Court Judge ruled in a summary judgment that the Mayor’s annual salary is set at $82,500 by the City Council in June 1998 vote.
The ruling by the court makes clear that the Mayor of Lynn is not entitled to receive any compensation above $82,500 per year and “that the city is entitled to seek reimbursement of the amount paid to Clancy above $82,500 (annually).”
“As the City Council has not passed any ordinances changing the mayoral compensation since 1998, this ordinance governs the current salary owed to the city’s mayor.”
The suit by Mayor Kennedy is based on the city’s argument that Clancy regularly received more than $82,500 annually, based on expense reimbursements and other payments that Mayor Kennedy, and now the court, believe should never have been made to the former Mayor.
Mayor Kennedy’s suit claimed, based on the $82,500 annual salary, the Clancy should have received total compensation of $660,000 during his time as Mayor, but can document payments of $1,061,436 during that time.
Clancy’s arguments in favor of the additional payments were based on Local 3147 union contract that provides extra payments for department heads and that past practice had allowed other mayors to be paid as department heads.
However, the judgment points out that the city charter gives the mayor the authority to appoint and suspend department heads, making department head positions inferior to the office of Mayor. Additionally, as the Mayor is an elected member of city government, Clancy’s argument is contradictory to state law on the same issue.
Clancy could not be reached for comment in time for this report, but in published remarks indicated that he had not decided whether or not to appeal the decision.
The ruling will also have an impact on city council pay, as council pay is tied to the mayor’s pay. The decision results in a 15-percent pay cut for city councilors.
City Council President Dan Cahill indicated that the city council has already directed the city treasurer to adjust the council’s annual salaries to reflect the ruling.