Category Archives: salary freeze

>Ordinance 2011-3027 And When Is A Salary Freeze, Not A Salary Freeze Explained: UPDATE

>Earlier today I was contacted by Middletown Township Clerk Heidi Brunt in reference to yesterdays’ blog post, I wasn’t available when first contacted, but I called her back around 4:30 this afternoon.

Ms. Brunt, after reading about my experience trying to get information pertaining to the proposed salary ordinance 2011-3027 (that was to be re-introduced at tonight’s Township Committee meeting) via an OPRA request. She wanted to apologise and clear the air about any misunderstanding that may have arisen from it. Clerk Brunt informed me that there was indeed a list of employees with job title and salaries available to me for the year 2009. She stated that if she had been in the office when I stopped by on Friday she would have presented me with what I requested.

After speaking with her and telling her exactly what I was after she said it was no problem, she requested me to send her an email so that she would have a record of my request. As soon as I sent her the email, with in minutes, she sent me a list for all township employees, their job positions and salaries for the year 2009 (even though I requested 2010). Ms. Brunt stated that to her knowledge, the salaries contained in this document had not changed.

While on the phone with Clerk Brunt, she did volunteer a small bit of information to me. Ms. Brunt mentioned that Tax Assessor Charles Heck and herself were due a 2.5% statutory salary increase for 2011. She informed me that, she, herself, had no intention accepting the raise and as a matter of fact had already turned it down. Her feelings were such that she in good conscience could not accept a raise while others were losing their jobs. She could not say the same of Tax Assessor Heck, who, she believes has not turned down the raise and is planning on accepting it.

Aftyer hanging up with Clerk Brunt it accured to me that I did not follow-up with her about Heck’s $15,000 “bonus” that was part of the ordinance. That is something that needs to be cleared up.

Heck received a salary of $108,572 from Middletown in 2009 which means he is due for an increase of $2714 in base pay increase if he accepts the 2.5% raise. A far cry less than the $15K “bonus” proposed in the ordinance, but which is no less disturbing.

Thank you Clerk Brunt for contacting me and clearing this up!

BTW – as a side note, it accured to me while looking at the list of employees and salaries, that this list doesn’t reflect the employees that retired or were laid off last year (2010), which isn’t a problem. Where the problem lays (and it really isn’t a problem, I just want to point it out) is that last year members of the Police Department were given a retro-active raise of 8% to cover salary increase for 2008 & 2009 in exchange for a 0% raise in 2010 (Gerry Scharfenberger was very proud of this), so I need to add 8% to the base of all members of the Police Department to get an accurate gage for 2011 salaries, which should not be misconstrued to be a jab at the Police.

I believe that the police have a very difficult job and at anytime during the day or night are putting their life on the line to protect other and uphold the law. One never knows when their next traffic stop or domestic dispute call will be their last.

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Filed under bonuses, Charles Heck, Heidi Brunt, OPRA requests, resolutions and ordinances, salary and compensation, salary freeze, Township Clerk, update

>Ordinance 2011-3027 And When Is A Salary Freeze, Not A Salary Freeze Explained

>I had some spare time on Friday so I thought that I would do a little research into the new salary ordinance being proposed by the Middletown Township Committee. I went down to Town Hall to request some information about it, but before I explain to you what I found out, here is a little rundown on what the new ordinance is about and what it is replacing.

Ordinance 2011-3027 Amending Management Salaries and Non-Union Employees, which can be found on the township website under the Clerk’s tab, is an attempt by the Township to be more transparent (TC Attorney Brian Nelson’s words) when it comes to non-union employees salaries. The ordinance list about 50 non-union job titles broken down into 5 sections titled:
Management
Statutory Employees(N.J.S.A. 40A:9-165)
Officers
Elected Officials
and
Special Assignments (Expiring 12/31/2011)
Accompanying each job titled is a single salary figure with no further explanation, which leads one to believe that those salaries are the current employee salaries or will be once the ordinance is approved. It is very misleading.
This proposed ordinance will replace existing Ordinance 2009-2996 , which instead of providing a single salary per job title, contained salary ranges per job title. Employee salaries could fall anywhere within a range that would reflect position (title and description) value in the broad market place; the regional market place; specific industry, as well as allow comparison across industries.
As I said, I went down to Town Hall thinking that I could get some information via an OPRA request on employees that currently fill positions and their current salaries as outlined in Ordinance 2011-3027, but I was wrong. It seems that you can only OPRA actual document that contain information, you can’t request that a list or document be generated to provide you with information.
Be that as it may, while I was discussing what I wanted to know, I kept being told that all the information that I wanted to know was listed in the ordinance and that NO employee would be receiving any raises in the ordinance due to a salary freeze which was in effect.
When I stated that the information I wanted wasn’t there, that I questioned current salaries as opposed to salaries list in the ordinance and that current salaries for a handful of employees that I found on the APP’s Data Universe where listed higher, sometime much higher, than those in the proposed new ordinance, it was suggested that I speak to Township Administrator Tony Mercantante.
Tony Mercantante explained that what I was trying to do was not possible because lists like the one I was asking for didn’t exist. When I told him that I now understood that, that I questioned the salaries listed in the new ordinance and whether they were accurate, he stated hat the ordinance language will be rewritten before it is reintroduced Monday night because he had concerns that the language was misleading . Mercantante stated that the salaries listed in ordinance 2011-3027 are for starting base pay only and are not reflective of what individuals in those positions are currently earning. But the assured me that no one was getting a salary raise because there was a pay freeze in effect.
He said that many are making more money annually than what the ordinance calls for due to longevity and merit pay. When I asked him for a list of salaries of current non union employees so that I could compare anyway, he said some of those numbers may change between now and the time the numbers would be provided. I asked him how that could be when there is a “salary freeze” in effect? Mercantante became a little wishy-washysaying that the salary freeze is only for actual raises to the base pay rate; step raises, longevity, merit or promotional type raises are not affected by the freeze.

I asked how could that be when you are dealing with non-union employees? He said it is in the contracts. What contracts I said, since when did non-union workers and department heads have contracts? He said whatever contracts are in effect for union employees, the same terms of those contracts hold for non-union Township employees.

I left there shaking my head because it didn’t make sense, but then again when did anything that the people who run Middletown do make sense?

So the bottom line for those asking questions or leaving comments on this blog is, proposed ordinance 2011-3027 salaries are starting base only and are not reflective of what individuals in those positions are currently earning. These salaries would be for new employees only, no current non-union employees will have money taking away from them based on the figures in this ordinance.

Also as far as I’m concerned,there is no true salary freeze happening. If a merit, longevity or other type of employment milestone is met by an employees of the township, they will be receiving a salary increase. So if you happen to one of the lucky ones who will enjoy a bump in your pay sometime this year congratulations! All others, piss off as they say.
On a side note, I asked Mercantante when the budget would be introduced. He said tentatively April 4th as part of the workshop meeting. He does not expect at this time to hold a special presentation meeting to introduce the budget, but that may or may not change just as the April 4th date might.

When I asked him about having to submit the budget to the state by March 16th, he said that date keeps changing because the state isn’t ready. So as usual the budget introduction is a floating target, but when it is introduced, we will be able to see that planned salaries for all those listed in the ordinance without and Opra request YEAAHH !

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Filed under merit pay, Middletown NJ, OPRA requests, resolutions and ordinances, salary freeze, step raises, Tony Mercantante, Township Administrator