William B. Evans joined the Boston Police Department as a cadet in 1980 and spent more than three decades working his way to the top. But when he was named police commissioner, the job came with a catch: Evans received an 11 percent pay cut that could cost him more than $18,000 a year.
As commissioner, Evans is not entitled to pay perks enjoyed by others in the department. Last year, 204 people on the police payroll made more than the commissioner’s annual salary of $174,200.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is pushing to give his police commissioner a raise. Walsh filed an ordinance this week with the City Council that would allow him to pay Evans up to $200,000.
“I’m trying to make sure my police commissioner is provided with a proper compensation,” Walsh said in an interview Monday.
Last May, an advisory board recommended pay raises for a host of top city officials, including the mayor and police commissioner. But Thomas M. Menino, then the mayor, and other city officials took no action, leaving salary ranges for department heads and elected officials at the same level they have been at since 2006.
‘I’m trying to make sure my police commissioner is provided with a proper compensation.’
“There are situations where department heads are making less than the people they supervise,” said Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a fiscal watchdog funded by businesses and nonprofit institutions. “From a morale perspective, that’s not a good situation. Unions are successful in negotiating contracts where their members receive increases. That doesn’t apply to department heads.”
Last year’s push for raises came from the Compensation Advisory Board, a five-member committee appointed by the mayor that examined municipal salaries locally and across the country. The advisory board suggested that the mayor’s salary rise to $190,000, from the current $175,000. Walsh does not plan to give himself a raise or adopt any of the other recommendations from the report, according to his spokeswoman, Kate Norton.
Boston’s city charter establishes pay ranges for top officials and gives the mayor authority to set exact salaries. The compensation board suggested last year that the upper pay range for the police and fire commissioners be increased to $190,000, from $175,000. The board said in its report that the police and fire commissioners “are paid below most of their counterparts, even those working in smaller communities.”
Walsh does not plan to give the fire commissioner a raise and has not determined how much the police commissioner would be paid if the City Council authorizes an increase, Norton said.
According to the advisory board report, the police commissioner pay is $190,000 in Baltimore, $260,000 in Chicago, and $199,000 in San Jose, Calif. Some police commissioners are paid less than in Boston, including Milwaukee ($147,000), Memphis ($120,000), and Indianapolis ($117,000).
Evans did not respond to an interview request made through the Police Department’s media relations office. In 2012, the last full year Evans served as a superintendent, he was paid almost $193,000, according to payroll records. His pay package included a base salary of just over $153,000, a $20,000 payment for unused vacation, and $19,000 as part of an incentive known as the Quinn Bill for officers with college degrees.
As commissioner, Evans is not eligible for the Quinn Bill supplement or vacation buyback, said Sergeant Michael McCarthy, a Boston police spokesman. Other officers augment their pay with overtime and by working construction details that are paid by private companies.
Last year, four detectives each made more than $100,000 in overtime alone, according to payroll records. Six officers each took home a total of more than $250,000.
The Compensation Advisory Board also recommended moving the city’s technology director to a higher pay scale so the city could attract top talent to a job in a competitive field. The Research Bureau’s Tyler urged the mayor to heed that recommendation and to take a more comprehensive look at pay for top city officials.
“It ought to be done as one whole package,” Tyler said.
Lawrence S. DiCara, a former city councilor who served as chairman of the Compensation Advisory Board for more than a dozen years, agreed.
“It’s good management that the commissioner or top person gets the highest pay,” DiCara said. “People will decline appointments because it’s a cut in pay. Unfortunately, traditionally, there has been a reluctance to pay people in the public sector what they are really worth.”