By JACQUELINE DURETT
EDISON — A salary ordinance that increases the maximum that council members and other officials can earn was warmly received by residents who spoke about it at the Feb. 10 Township Council meeting where it passed unanimously.
The ordinance affects both municipal council members as well as department directors and some township employees, including the business administrator, clerk, construction code official, tax assessor and tax collector. The highest of the maximums is for the business administrator position at $161,000.
The new maximums do not mean that officials will automatically receive these new amounts; they simply raise the caps for how much people in those roles can receive.
“I think this ordinance is long overdue,” resident Fred Wolke said during the public hearing on the ordinance. “Many may feel that we’re raising salaries at a time when we’re trying to keep taxes down. But in order to attract the right type of people, both elected and non-elected, we have to have the right salary for these people so that they will be interested in serving and doing a good job.”
Wolke also spoke about the council president’s and council members’ maximum salaries, which have now been set at maximums of $13,000 and $12,000, respectively, twice what they previously were. He said the council salaries had not been raised in at least a dozen years. “$6,000 is not really a very realistic figure with the amount of time these people put in,” he said.
Resident Bruce Diamond said he agreed, but cautioned that the ordinance should be used to attract new talent, not reward current under-performing employees.
“Normally as residents what we hear is we don’t offer sufficient salary to get the best employees,” he said. “Hopefully, you don’t just take the employees we’ve learned to settle with and let them advance through the wage scale, and [instead you] use the increased scale to really attract better employees. Because it’s just more and more of the same. At times, it gets frustrating.”
Diamond said he also agreed with the new maximum for council members.
“No one thinks that for a second that you’re doing this for $6,000 a year,” he said, adding that the previous figure wouldn’t even cover out-of-pocket expenses for anyone to serve on the council. “I don’t think anybody really has a right to object about the council increase.”
Following the comments, the council enacted the ordinance with no dissent.