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City Council panel weighs raises for police, fire commissioner

A Boston City Council committee considered a measure Tuesday to boost the salaries of the police and fire commissioners, bringing their compensation more in line with that of commissioners in other cities.

The measure, proposed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, would boost to $200,000 the maximum annual salary for police Commissioner William B. Evans and the next permanent fire commissioner.

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The proposed pay increases would also apply to the city’s director of administrative services, but no one is currently in that job.

The police and fire commissioners’ salaries have in recent years been eclipsed by the earnings of some rank-and-file and command staff. Currently, Boston’s fire and police commissioners earn between $125,000 and $175,000 annually. Evans makes $174,000.

Councilors, who could act on the proposed pay increases as early as Wednesday, seemed receptive to the idea during the Government Operations Committee hearing.

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“Commissioner Evans truly deserves to be paid the maximum salary based on what others are paid, and the fire commissioner deserves to be paid that much as well,’’ said Bill Linehan, the council’s president.

Three finalists were recommended last week for the vacant post of fire commissioner.

Michael Flaherty, an at-large councilor who heads the committee, read off the salaries of police and fire department chiefs or commissioners in Chicago, Seattle, and Cambridge, who earn more than $200,000 a year.

Flaherty said he wanted to increase Boston’s pay even more — to $225,000 — to keep the salaries competitive.

City budget director Karen O’Connor said she found in a review that nearly 100 Boston police officers made $175,000, and 36 made more than $200,000.

“If you add [work] details, it would be greater,’’ O’Connor said.

“That continues to be a problem,’’ Flaherty said in response to O’Connor’s figures. “We should close that gap.”

A Boston Globe review found that last year, 204 people on the Police Department payroll made more than the commissioner.

With overtime and other benefits, Boston firefighters average more than $100,000 in pay. Many members of the department’s command staff, earn more than $180,000.

In April, Walsh pushed to raise the salary of Evans, who joined the Police Department as a cadet in 1980 and worked his way through the ranks. When he signed on as commissioner, Evans absorbed an 11 percent pay cut — about $18,000 a year — because he was no longer eligible for overtime or off-duty work details.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com.
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