Howell council rejects manager’s salary ordinance

HOWELL – Members of the Howell Township Council have defeated an ordinance that proposed to establish a new salary range for the township manager.

During a meeting on March 19, the ordinance failed in a 2-1 vote. On a vote to adopt the ordinance, Mayor Theresa Berger and Councilman John Bonevich voted “no.” Deputy Mayor Evelyn O’Donnell voted “yes.”

Councilwoman Pamela Richmond and Councilman Thomas Russo abstained on the vote.

The ordinance proposed setting the minimum salary for the township manager at $75,000 and the maximum salary at $185,000. The current maximum salary for the township manager is $145,000.

Brian Geoghegan has been Howell’s township manager since the fall of 2017. His base salary for 2018 was $135,000, according to municipal officials. Geoghegan’s salary was negotiated to $160,000 in a contract that was signed on Nov. 20, 2018, according to municipal officials.

Richmond, Russo and Bonevich joined the council in January, after the township manager’s salary increase had been renegotiated by the previous council.

During the public hearing that preceded the council’s vote on the ordinance, resident Tina Smilek asked why the manager’s contract, which was signed by Mayor Theresa Berger in November 2018 and ratified by the council in December 2018, was not put into an ordinance and open for public comment.

Berger said it was a good question.

Township Attorney Joseph Clark said a resolution was passed in November 2018 that authorized the execution of the manager’s contract.

“The contract was signed and dated before the resolution was even approved,” Smilek said.

The contract was signed and dated on Nov. 20, 2018 and the resolution was approved on Dec. 11, 2018, according to municipal officials.

Asked for clarification, Clark said the township manager has not received a raise yet and is being paid at a level consistent with his past contract and the existing salary ordinance.

Clark said a new ordinance is being drafted which would, if adopted, allow the manager to receive compensation commensurate with the new contract.