Local Town Execs Paid More Than Members Of Congress, Most Governors: An Analysis

by Tim Wood

Most Cape town managers and town administrators have higher annual salaries than members of Congress and the average U.S. governor.

Town managers in Chatham and Brewster are among the top earners, with salaries and benefits topping $200,000. The average annual pay for a town executive on the Cape is $192,208.

That’s more than the salaries of U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives, who make $174,000 a year. The median salary of a U.S. state governor is $150,000.

Most town managers earn at least twice the $90,000 median income for Barnstable County, some considerably more. Given the cost of real estate locally — the average single-family home sold for $1.3 million in 2023 — the salaries may be a necessary incentive to attract good candidates.

Capewide, Sandwich has the highest executive salary, with its town manager earning $232,852. (All salary figures are as reported in 2022 town reports or current contracts and include both base salary and extra pay, such as vehicle stipends.) Chatham is next, with Town Manager Jill Goldsmith earning a total of $206,398 in 2022. Brewster’s Town Manager Peter Lombardi made $205,786.

Harwich Town Administrator Joseph Powers was at the bottom of the list for Cape manager earnings; in 2022 he was paid $164,252. A new contract approved by the select board Feb. 12 gives him a $20,000 salary boost plus a 2 percent cost of living increase.

Orleans’ new Town Manager Kim Newman’s first year salary is $199,000, slightly higher than the Cape average.

Based on the 2022 figures, Harwich had the lowest town manager/administrator salary, with Mashpee the next highest at $166,590. A number of towns were in the $175,000 to $190,000 range, with at six topping out at $200,000 or more — Falmouth, Sandwich, Barnstable, Provincetown, Chatham, Orleans. The Wellfleet town administrator position is currently vacant.

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy earns about $222,000, an increase from the $185,000 earned by her predecessor, Charlie Baker, thanks to a 20 percent hike approved by the legislature in late 2022. California Governor Gavin Newson earns about $218,000, plus extensive benefits. New York Governor Kathy Hochul appears to be the highest paid U.S. governor in terms of base salary, with annual pay of $250,000. Some governors earn considerably less, with Maine’s governor near the bottom of the list at $70,000.

According to Forbes, the average salary in Massachusetts is $76,600, the highest in the nation. The average salary in the U.S. is $59,428, according to the magazine.

Town managers aren’t the only ones pulling down six-figure salaries in local towns. In Chatham, two police officers made more than $200,000 in 2022 (details paid by outside organizations account for part of this), while numerous police, fire and town staff in all four towns broke the $100,000 ceiling. Much of this is overtime pay, which has become a considerable problem for some departments, like Brewster, where limited staff require firefighters to work multiple shifts.