By: Abby Junkvorian – Dec. 2018
Six months. That is how long the residents of the City of Methuen have been subjected to the ongoing struggles of the Police salaries. The discourse seemingly appears to be endless as the year comes to a close; with no solution in sight. Methuen residents, like myself, are becoming increasingly tired and annoyed about the lack of transparency concerning this situation. The only thing we do seem to hear is the constant bickering of the City Councilors and city residents around us.
On Monday, November 19, 2018 Sean Cronin, the Deputy Commissioner of local services for the Department of Revenue, came before town Mayor James Jajuga and the City Council as the city’s state-appointed fiscal stability officer.
Upon meeting with the Council and Mayor, Cronin discussed and “identified two outstanding issues that could wreak havoc on the city’s budget: the ongoing battle over contracted police salaries, and the city’s propensity to greatly overspend for snow and ice removal” as stated in a local daily newspaper.
Back in July, new Police Captain’s salaries of $188,206 were compromised form the original hefty amount of around $435,000 annually. However, the one significant thing that many people are unaware of is that Mayor Jajuga does not have the necessary funds in the city’s coffers to uphold this new salary! With the current rate of pay for these few officers, the Methuen Police Department could see the layoffs (of mainly patrolmen) come February.
On November 17th, the City of Methuen kicked off our holiday season with the annual Santa Parade. Sadly, missing from the parade this year was the Methuen Police honor guard. Although the parade went well and was enjoyed by many, it would have been nice to see our local police and honor guard both marching and present at the event. Mayor James Jajuga said, “We just have to cut a couple things out. We’re not going to have motorcycles, we’re not going to have float escorts, [we’re] not going to have an honor guard. … We’re trying to trim it down.”
This is a result of the refused request from the Methuen Police Department for $35,000 to be added to the special events budget. Chief Joseph Solomon threatened to reduce the size of the group participating in the parade when the measure did not pass, he did exactly that.
The holiday season is full upon us. With less than a month until Christmas, and the new year following shortly after, one can hope that residents of this city will finally say “enough is enough!”
This is the season for putting aside our petty squabbles and focusing on settling our differences. I encourage both the young and the old, the new and long-standing residents, the civilians and the elected, to speak up for what is right.
We need to learn to approach these situations with more understanding, love and compassion instead of this constant mood of greed and hunger for power. I sincerely believe that if we do, this Police fiasco could be solved quickly and most beneficially for the lives and safety of all residents.
And a shout out to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard and the Methuen Fire Department for marching in the parade, nicely done! ◊