Editor's Note: The following is the letter written by Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin that was submitted on August 19 to City Council. The letter officially vetoed the benefits package aldermen had previously approved for injured Woburn Police Officer Robert DeNapoli. The letter from Galvin was included in its entirety as communication during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
President Denaro and Members of the City Council:
On August 1, 2013, I re-submitted a comprehensive disability package for the benefit of Officer Robert DeNapoli and his family. Again, this package was one of the most comprehensive and generous disability packages ever offered to a police officer injured in the line of duty.
My intentions have always been clear – to fairly and appropriately provide additional disability benefits for Officer DeNapoli than those allowed under existing State Laws, while also acknowledging this is a precedent-setting disability package that will have future financial impacts on our City.
We live in an increasingly dangerous world. Our public safety officers, both police and fire, are well aware of the dangers and inherent risks associated with their jobs. We appreciate their service on our behalf and know they and their families understand these risks.
As Mayor, I have a responsibility to ensure that an officer injured and/or disabled in the line of duty be treated fairly based on the incident and injuries –
At the same time, I have a responsibility, as always, to balance that response with serious consideration of appropriateness in not just this once case, but also possible future benefits packages that will require the same treatment, as well as the resulting financial obligation to the City in the future.
The enhanced disability I have presented will immediately pay Officer DeNapoli 100 percent of his salary until he reaches age 65, much more than the 75 percent he would receive under existing state laws, without this special legislation. He is currently paid $68,704 per year. This annual amount will increase each year the patrolman’s union receives a salary increase under collective bargaining. In addition, the disability payments are exempt from both federal and state income taxes. The net effect of this is obvious – if Officer DeNapoli had continued as a police officer, he would need to earn in excess of $90,000 to net $68,704 per year.
In addition, Officer DeNapoli would be exempt from state laws that strictly limit the earnings he could make from a new occupation. This is a unique benefit not found in any previously passed, enhanced disability pension, other than Somerville’s.
Upon reaching 65, when Officer DeNapoli would have retired anyway under department requirements, his disability pension will revert to 80 percent of his salary at that time – income also exempt from state and federal taxes.
I also must make it clear that the City has been paying Officer DeNapoli 100% of his salary on a tax-free basis since the date of his injuries, has paid all his medical bills and obtained a $125,000 insurance settlement from our Insurance company on his behalf.
Overall, this is a generous and fair package, similar to the disability package recently approved by the Somerville City Council for Officer Oliveira, who was shot and seriously wounded responding to a crime scene; and also a recent package by the Lynn City Council for Officer LeBlanc, who was seriously injured responding to a crime scene.
The City Council amended the package on August 6, 2013, by proposing to continue the 100% disability payment after Officer DeNapoli turns 65 and returning the $86,000 annuity (the death benefit) in a lump sum.
I respect the City Council’s decision, I must veto the city council’s adopted
order as amended regarding the Special Act Legislation for Officer DeNapoli.
Scott D. Galvin, Mayor