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The Boston Globe

Metro

Police, fire workers are among Boston’s top earners

Police and Fire Department employees ranked among seven of the 10 best-paid city workers in Boston, earning substantially more than Mayor Thomas M. Menino, payroll records ­released Tuesday show.

Andrew O’Halloran, a chief of field services for the Fire Depart­ment, made $280,120. Boston police Lieutenant Luis A. Cruz was the highest paid ­officer, at $266,971. Police officers, who occupied six of the 10 top slots, can greatly supplement their base pay with overtime, details and Quinn bill money, which comes from a 1970s law that provides incentive pay for earning college ­degrees.

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The three other highest-paid employees work at the School Department, but for two of them, their pay reflects the outcome of court cases against the city.

Payroll records show that more than 3,700 city employees earned $100,000 or more in 2012, up slightly from 2011, but down marginally from the year before.

The city’s highest-earning employee, at $427,522, was teacher Teresa D. Underwood, with most of that coming from a court judgment, said Matt Wilder, a spokesman for the Boston School Department.

The third highest-paid ­employee was also a teacher, Jonathan D. Bonds, who took home $318,158, with most coming from a legal settlement, Wilder said. Bonds’s base pay was about $90,000.

The only other city employee earning more than $300,000 was School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, who was paid $323,722. Menino was far down the list at 180th, with pay of $175,000. Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis earned $174,200.

Underwood, a fifth-grade teacher at the Curley School in Jamaica Plain, was fired for ­insubordination and conduct unbecoming a teacher, according to records from the Appeals Court. In 2007, on the first day of school, she argued with her principal. Upset, she went to Faulkner Hospital and told an emergency room psychiatrist that she had come to the hospital in part because she had an urge to kill the principal. The psychiatrist reported her to ­police, as required by law.

She was put on leave and then fired. An arbitrator ruled that her firing was invalid and ordered her reinstated.

The school system appealed, and the case made its way to the state Appeals Court, which ruled against the city in September, noting that the arbitrator’s finding was justified, ­“after an unusually thorough explanation of the facts.”

Underwood’s “statement was plainly intended to threaten no one, and was made during an effort to seek treatment,” the ruling said.

Underwood received $398,847 in back pay, with no interest.

Court records show Bonds won a $341,000 Suffolk Superior Court jury verdict in 2009 against the school system ­because Boston Latin School administrators retaliated when he alleged he was the victim of racial bias at the school.

The verdict in Bonds’s favor was overturned by a judge, but reinstated by the Appeals Court in 2011, records show.

The city decided to settle with Bonds rather than continue to litigate the case, settling for $228,000. Neither Underwood nor Bonds could be reached for comment. Both are still ­employees, although Bonds is on leave, said Wilder.

Meredith Weenick, the city’s chief financial officer, said modest, contractual pay raises took effect during the year for most civilian employees, driving up costs slightly. Overall, payroll increased slightly, from just ­under $1.3 billion to about $1.31 billion.

The number of full-time ­employees increased slightly from a year ago, to 16,532, up about 250. “Those increases are in the mayor’s priority areas of education and public safety,” Weenick said. The overall city budget ­increased slightly, to $2.5 billion.

While police overtime increased, to $44.7 million, it was within the range of recent years, Weenick said. Overtime was $42 million in 2011 and $45 million in 2010.

The city paid out $21 million in injury pay last year, comparable to previous years.

Matt Carroll can be reached at mcarroll@globe.com.
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