Battenfeld: Boston city councilors hand out big, taxpayer-funded bonuses to staffers

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Christmas comes early for the Boston City Council.

Councilors continue to hand out hefty, taxpayer-funded pay bonuses to staffers in a practice that smacks of old school politics excess.

Councilor-at-large Michael Flaherty, who is retiring at the end of the year, this week doled out nearly $25,000 worth of bonuses to four staffers, records show.

That includes a $9,885 one-time bonus to staffer Paul Sullivan, $6,115 bonuses to aides Clare Brooks and Mary Karski and a $2,519 bonus to assistant Tricia Kalayjian, according to records.

Flaherty isn’t the only one giving bonuses but it adds a certain sting when a councilor hands them out a few months before leaving office. Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson tried to give one staffer — her sister — a $7,000 bonus until she was caught by the Ethics Commission.

How many people would like to get a $10,000 or $7,000 bonus? A lot of people work hard, but don’t get handed big taxpayer funded bonuses.

They get on the malfunctioning T after putting their kids to school, then their taxes go to pay this? It’s an entitlement the average working person in the city of Boston doesn’t get. It would be a godsend to get one.

This is the most expensive city council in Boston history and one of the most inept.

Councilors are well paid now at $103,500 annually and they’re soon to get another big raise.

All of the staff payouts were approved by the council but they’re not labeled on the agenda as bonuses – they are called an “order(s) for the reappointment of temporary employee(s)” in a sleight of hand maneuver. Not exactly transparent.

Each councilor gets a budget of $341,500 to pay for staff salaries, while President Ed Flynn gets $400,000.

If there is any money leftover at the end of the year, councilors can spend it on bonuses so the money isn’t returned to the budget. It’s a little known tradition that has gone on for years.

Flynn confirmed that councilors routinely hand out bonuses when they have money left in their accounts.

“At the end of the year if you have money left over people try to give it out as bonuses,” he said. City councilors have the flexibility to make those adjustments. People want to end the year with no money left over.”

But in what’s supposed to be an era of new politics in Boston City Hall, this is a type of practice that turns off ordinary people.

There’s been virtually no reform at City Hall and this is a glaring example. What justifies the bonus besides the fact that they can?

It’s a practice that should be discontinued and the dysfunctional City Council should set an example.

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