At Tuesday's meeting, Garwood council approved 2012 salaries for certain borough employees and 2013 salaries for the police department.
Council unanimously approved the resolution regarding police salaries, which reflect a 1.75 percent raise from 2012. (A complete PDF list of individual salaries can be found in our gallery, right.)
On the resolution regarding borough employee salaries for 2012, Councilman Jim Mathieu voted against the ordinance while other members voted in favor. (Councilman Tim Hak was absent.)
The borough employee salaries put forth include individual raises over 2011; all raises were under two percent. Council also approved an ordinance setting salary ranges for borough positions. (A list of both 2012 salaries and salary ranges can be found in our gallery, right.)
Mathieu said he felt it was unfair for the borough to give raises during such difficult economic times.
"Over one-third of our tax increase for 2012 will pay for these raises," said Mathieu. "These raises being doled out show how out of touch the council is with this borough."
Councilman Keith Sluka responded to Mathieu saying that it was only natural that employee salaries consume a large part of the municipal budget.
"A lot of the budget will always go to salaries because for the most part because government is service industry – we're paying for the service and we don’t have a product," said Sluka. "Because all of these raises are two percent or less, I will be voting for this one."
Sluka also said he felt it was unfair that 2012 salaries were not approved until the last council meeting of the year.
"People should know when they show up to work what they’re going to be working for," said Sluka. "We need to talk about these in April when we're doing budget. They shouldn’t have to get them 12 months behind."
Councilwoman and Finance Chair Sara Todisco responded to Sluka, saying she agreed but referenced pending litigation as the reason for the delay. Todisco may have been referring to the lawsuit filed by Borough Administrator Christina Ariemma against the borough and Councilman Mathieu. At the council's first November meeting, Mathieu suggested approving salaries might be unwise since those increases could become a factor in the suit.
Todisco also noted that this was the first year raises were decided based on employee evaluations, a process she advocated for and council passed earlier in the year.
Later, Mathieu suggested Mayor Patricia Quattrocchi veto the resolution regarding borough employee salaries, noting that if she did the issue of raises would be over, as raises cannot be given for 2012 in 2013 and this was the last council meeting of the year.
The mayor did not respond to Mathieu's suggestion.