Council raises floor on salaries

Council unanimously approves ordinance despite reservations

BY ENID WEISS Correspondent

The Metuchen Borough Council on Oct. 20 increased minimum and maximum ranges for borough salaries to allow for raises to be distributed before the end of the year.

Despite a unanimous vote, there was much discussion on the issue beforehand on the salaries in relation to the borough’s overall budget and economic concerns.

“It’s going to be a difficult budget year next year for the state, and I don’t think the state aid is going to be there,” said Mayor Thomas Vahalla. “Everything is going to be on the table. I know our administrator has already sat down to look at the numbers.”

Many of the raises were part of contractual obligations, Borough Administrator William E. Boerth explained. Others, such as an administrative secretarial post, were not. Usually both minimum and maximum salaries are included in advertisements for open positions. If the minimum is too low, it limits the number of qualified applicants seeking a job.

Currently the minimum for such a secretarial post is $22,000, “too low to get a college graduate” with a two-year associate degree.

Several councilmen expressed support for raising the maximum salaries but questioned the need to raise minimums. Councilman William Waldron said he understood the reasoning behind the maximum but not the minimum.

“I [don’t] want to put us behind the eight ball in terms of fiscal stability,” Waldron said. “My problem with this is, I think it’s wasteful.”

He eventually voted for the measure.

Councilman Richard Weber noted the information regarding the ordinance did not contain information on previous salary numbers. He said he’s asked before to have both old and new numbers in front of him before casting his vote.

Weber also eventually voted for the ordinance.

Councilman Peter Cammarano was another who voted for the measure after questioning it.

“Why raise the minimum $8,000 when we may be able to get someone at the lower minimum?” said Cammarano. He then admitted it was late in the process (this was the formal second reading of the policy) and was told that if it were not voted on, employees would not receive raises by December, and noted that he and others should have expressed their disagreement earlier.

New salaries for public works positions range from a general laborer position at a minimum$ 19.18 per hour and a maximum of $23.01 per hour to a pump operator at a minimum of $21.52 per hour and a maximum of $25.76 per hour.Newsalaries for police officers range froma patrolman at a minimum of $39,809 annual salary to a maximum of $84,855, and a sergeant at a minimum of $85,698 annual salary to a maximum of $92,691.

Nonunion new salaries (of which borough officials estimate there to be roughly 30 employees) range from a minimum of $30,000 for an administrative secretary to a maximum of $48,000. A recreation director’s salary will start at $48,000 to a maximum of $76,000. The borough administrator’s salary will start at $73,000 and increase to a maximum of $123,000.

The ordinance states that holiday pay, longevity, overtime, sick days, personal days, insurance and other benefits are not included in the salary numbers.

Contact Enid Weiss at metuchen@