Vernon Township Resident Says Township Officials Not Fiscally Conservative
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 • 5:50pm
On July 1, 2011, Vernon Township started the re-organization of our ”new” government. One of the first things that should have happened was to establish the salary for the newly elected town officials and if the mayoral position would be full or part-time. During the municipal campaign, the current mayor said that he could do the job of mayor on a part-time basis and do it for $500 a week. That is $26,000 for a part-time job, which was later settled at $30,000 per year. The council was to stay at $3,000 as previous councils’ because it had fewer responsibilities. The Council President said, “There were volunteers in this town who did more then the council and that he would like to do something for them.” We thought that these two issues were settled.
Our current town officials have claimed to be “fiscally conservative” but spent millions the first 6 months of their terms. Those expenditures can be found on the Vernon Township website at www.vernontwp.com/ in the council minutes.
In 6 months, the contracts for our unions were settled with raises, our township administrator was handed a higher salary then anticipated, and other new administrative personnel came on board with generous benefits and salaries that are higher then other municipalities in Sussex County. A new sewer system was bonded for at 7 million, along with lawyer fees for the newly formed MUA. Heavy machinery and equipment were also purchased and bonded for. One has to ask, in a town that is 32 million in debt at the last audit, where are we getting this money?
In January of 2012, an ordinance was introduced for raises for the town council, municipal employees, and the mayor. They passed that ordinance at the protest of several residents some who asked for 3 separate ordinances. The mayor was asked to veto the ordinance and start all over from square one after it was passed, but he didn’t. So the Vernon Taxpayers Association started a petition. In the interim, the issue that has still not been settled is what the mayoral position is - full or part-time? This was yet another responsibility of our town council, which should have been voted on and established for the current and future mayors. As someone who questioned that point - “Is the mayor to work full or part-time?” I was told the answer was in the “new” town code. Fact is, there was never a vote on that one important item and it is not in the town code as of this writing.
The municipal question for Vernon is more then just about salary increases. It all is just wrong and it is unfair to taxpayers! Can anyone blame registered voters for signing the petition making it a ballot question for November 6?
Simply, if you have a job, “When was the last time you got a salary increase, especially if your company was millions of dollars in debt?
Mary Ellen Vichiconti