Metro

Inspector general gets pay hike

Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s salary will increase to $170,000 after the council that oversees his office approved the approximately 7 percent pay hike this week.

Cunha’s annual salary was previously $158,727. The Inspector General Council, which is charged with reviewing his compensation and job performance, voted Thursday to adopt the higher pay level as of July 1, 2017. He received 3 percent raises in each of the past two years, according to data presented at a council meeting.

Auditor Suzanne Bump, who chairs the council, said the $170,000 salary “represented the importance of the work of the office and the positive performance of the individual in it.”

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Under state law, the inspector general’s salary is capped at a level equal to 90 percent of the salary of the Supreme Judicial Court chief justice. A package of public official pay raises lawmakers approved earlier this year raised SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants’s pay to $193,739, meaning the Inspector General Council had the option to raise Cunha’s salary to up to $174,365.

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“That’s there as a sort of, frankly, arbitrary figure, and we thought that 170 was a good figure,” Bump, whose salary climbed from $140,607 to $165,000 under the pay raise law, told reporters after the meeting. “The only motion that was put on the table was for 170.”

The pay raise comes as the Legislature and Governor Charlie Baker wrestle with persistent state budget problems. Slow growth in tax revenue, associated in part with slow wage growth among Massachusetts workers, has forced limited investments across government and spending reductions in some programs.

The inspector general’s office has a staff of 56 full-time employees, Cunha said. The office has an operating budget this fiscal year of $2,578,525, which Cunha said represents a 1 percent increase over last year.

Cunha is the state’s fourth inspector general and in June was appointed to a second five-year term. His office is charged with detecting and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in the spending of public funds.

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The council took its unanimous voice vote on Cunha’s salary after meeting in executive session for more than an hour to discuss his job performance and other matters.

At the outset of the meeting, Bump told Cunha she appreciated the “professionalism that has been added to the office” under his tenure.

Cunha briefed the council on his first five years as inspector general, during which he said the office recovered $13.1 million for the state and identified nearly $57.3 million in savings.

“I’ve put my heart and soul into this job and feel like we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.