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Aldermen benefits

I want to thank Interim Mayor Gail Infurna for her written explanation about join the city retirement system 20 years ago as a part-time alderman and thus is not eligible for a life pension after her mayoral term in two years. Fortunately, taxpayers should know that city retirement rules do not allow employees like Infurna a retroactive option to join the system when a windfall occurs later in city service.

Has city employment become a buffet of benefits hidden from public scrutiny? Shouldn’t the taxpayers and voters have this pension and benefit information?

It would have been appropriate for Infurna to clarify her retirement status during the process leading to her election as president of the board and subsequently mayor. Unfortunately, this all smacks of ongoing lack of transparency. While the list of current pensioned employees is public information, the list of those currently in the system as future retirees is not.

For starters, is Rob Dolan enrolled in the system for a life pension after only 16 years of full-time service? Which current aldermen are enrolled in a pension and/or receive the 18K health benefit? Did Infurna take the health benefit as a part-time alderman? Aldermen John Tramontozzi and Monica Medeiros already announced a likely run for mayor. What is their pension status based on a mayoral salary or other city job down the road? Why can’t Infurna give the taxpayers a transparent disclosure of some 350 current retirees and almost 450 future? How many of each are part-time employees getting or in line for a pension and health insurance for life.

Infurna writes: “ It is critically important to understand that the Melrose Retirement Board nor the Board of Aldermen create any of the rules or regulations concerning eligibility, as these rules and regulations are established and passed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and all cities and towns are subject to the same rules and regulations.”

It’s also critically important to recognize that while these are state regulations, they are not mandatory as Infurna has obviously demonstrated. It’s also important to recognize that the Melrose aldermen voted on April 2, 2012, to accept the state regulations without local amendments. It’s also important to recognize that in neighboring communities like Stoneham, the selectmen voted as one to not take the health benefit, citing the disparate cost to the taxpayers in comparison to their salary and part-time service.

There remains much needed transparency in Melrose.

Re: Aldermen benefits

That should be "not joining" and "rejoin" in intro.

Re: Aldermen benefits

I think it's important to recognize that if anything, the benefits that municipal employees receive have been greatly reduced over the decades. Their pay is 10-20% less than peers in the private sector. They don't get bonuses for doing a good job. The retirement age is higher. They don't have work-related expenses reimbursed. They have to put up with inefficiencies in the workplace because taxpayers and politicians demand critical support positions not be filled to make it seem like they're reining in on expenses.

Sure, you get a pension and health insurance. What you don't get is reasonable pay for decades, 401K matching, etc.

Bob- If you are so upset about the current system, I think it would be much more effective for you to lobby to change it. Attacking specific individuals who are just doing what anyone else would do in the same situation is not productive. Take the high road for once.

Re: Aldermen benefits

He does take the high road, he's one of the few people we've seen in recent decades try to decipher various layers of corruption average citizens don't have a clue are going on unless they're part of the Melrose Insiders Club. The newspapers won't do it because they don't want to run articles that will cost them real estate advertising. Whether you agree or disagree with his style, isn't having the information the pols refuse to give us helpful?

Now we need Snow to go undercover and expose Paymore and the rest of the school committee debacle with their hundreds of thousands of dollars in hidden legal bills from their various indiscretions and lawsuits filed against student families.

Re: Aldermen benefits

I saw Geraldine Heavey (former BOA member) at the Illegitimate Mayoral Ceremony last week. She has not served as an elected official in Melrose for many years. She is an Attorney. Her husband, Joseph McDonough is an Attorney. They have used taxpayer dollars for their family health plan for DECADES. They are only in their sixties. So, it is safe to assume they will continue to use our tax monies for their health insurance for a very long time. Their house in Byfield is gorgeous and located on a river. Fair?

Re: Aldermen benefits

The next time Snow is right on the facts of anything pertaining to Melrose will be the first time. Between blatant lies and pure stupidity Snow's fact are about as reliable at the MBTA during the winter.