Several officers from the Methuen Police Department who were set to be laid off will now be able to keep their jobs thanks to a restoration in the town’s budget. However, a mix of relief and concerns still linger since other officers will likely still lose their jobs.
The Methuen City Council restored $1.2 million to the department’s budget, allowing some officers to continue with their careers. In January, more than four dozen officers received pink slips notifying them of the layoffs.
The decision to let go of half of the police force in Methuen was made after the City Council and the department could not agree on pay raises for superior officers.
During the latest City Council meeting, officials agreed on adding $1.2 million to save some jobs. In order to save all officers from layoffs, the budget needed $1.5 million.
City Councilor Steve Saba claimed in January that the contract for officers’ raises was unjustifiably high.
"We were faced with a ridiculous contract in a community where the average household income of only $62,000," Saba said. "We're expected to approve and smile and be happy with paying captains upwards of $250,000 each."
Meanwhile, Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said the department was not asking for additional money.
"I would ask them to stop this," Solomon said in January. "Level fund the police department to last year’s numbers, which is a zero dollar increase in taxes to the citizens of Methuen."
As of Friday, no layoffs have been taken into effect. It is unclear how many jobs the budget’s added money will save.
Methuen Mayor James Jajuga is set to have a meeting about the layoffs in the near future.