Pay scale hike postponed for municiple employees

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    WEST MILFORD-West Milford Township's top employees will have to wait a while longer to see a raise in their future pay checks. The Council put a hold on declaring the pay scales for its senior staff at the Feburary 10 meeting. The ordinance concerning salaries and compensation for the 28 most prominent town workers was rejected five to one by council members citing concerns over the figures being used as a guide for future pay scales. Among the town employees included in the ordinance was Police Chief and Public Safety Director James Dykstra whose proposed new pay scale was between $65,000 and $114,000. The Planning Director Bill Drew would have been in line for a scale of $65,000 to $115,000 with colleague Rich McFadden, the Township Engineer due for $75,000 to $120,500. The Township Administrator Richard Kunze, present at the meeting, had his potential pay scale blocked -- at least temporarily -- as well as that of Town Clerk Kevin Byrnes. Kunze admitted that the employees discussed were all currently earning more than the lowest level of these pay scales. Initial concern regarding the proposed pay scales was made by Council member Bob Nolan who said "I think we need to do some research to see what other towns are paying for similar positions." Nolan continued "Once I'm satisfied that was done with these salaries then I'll correct this, but for the time being I will be prepared to vote no." Fellow Democrat James Warden supported Nolan in his concern and also made clear his intent to vote against this ordinance. Republican council member Joseph Elcavage spoke of his support for the ordinance and his belief that the pay scales were justified. Elcavage said "I've examined this and I've not seen anything that's out of line with what other employees in the town are getting. I would urge everybody to vote yes." Nolan countered Elcavage's remarks by noting New Jersey Governor William Cody's position with regard to state level management employees. Nolan said "The Governor asked department heads to forego a salary increase this year because of the state's budget crisis. I'm not asking we forego salary increases…I am asking that some due diligence be done." There was also concern expressed by Council member Paul Bailey over the salary of Kenneth Hawkswell, the town's health officer. State mandate demands once the health office reaches four years of employment he is entitled to the maximum of his pay scale. Hawkswell currently earns $82,857 which would rise to $86,170 if the pay scales were approved. Mayor Joseph DiDonato pointed out no actual pay increases would result from this ordinance, however it cut no ice with the majority of council members. Warden drew attention to the current budget reviews. "We are looking at a $2.6 million deficit in our budget, we need to find that somewhere. I feel that to err on the side on caution is not going to do any harm," he said. The Mayor called for a vote on the issue with Elcavage providing the only "yes" among the council. A review of employee's pay rates will not be required before any increase in the current pay scales will be approved.