Dear Editor: City council approved recently an employment contract for the City manager who was appointed by council in 2015. There are several aspects of this agreement which should be known by, and of interest to, taxpayers, more so than might be expected from such a document. The Brigantine Taxpayers Association commented on this contract at the April meeting.
Under the City’s council /manager form of government, in which an appointed manager is the chief executive officer of the municipality, NJ state law states, “the manager shall hold office for an indefinite term and may be removed by a majority vote of the council”. This contract, which does include a definite term of office, until 12/31/19, gets around this apparent contradiction of the law by stating, “nothing in this agreement shall prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with the right of the Governing Body to terminate the services of the Employee at any time, subject only to the provisions of state law”. This is an example of interpreting the law for one’s purposes.
The City, the Employer, agrees to increase said base salary of Employee for being the City manager and City engineer ($127,500., retroactive to 1/1/16) and/ or other benefits by 2 %, at a minimum, annually for the duration of the contract. Any increase should be based on performance, the City’s financial condition, and any other relevant circumstances. It should not be automatic. This is not a multi-year public-sector union contract with automatic step increases. It’s a contract for a single, top executive position subject to council’s on-going approval of the person filling it.
We continue to believe that, in all public-sector contracts, there shall not be payment for accrued unused sick and vacation time. We realize that such payments continue to exist in these contracts, contrary to the private-sector. That doesn’t make them right, nor is it right and financially sound to extend them to an individual executive contract.
The City shall not reduce the salary, compensation or other benefits during the term of this agreement unless said benefits are reduced for other municipal employees. This is another stipulation in this contract tying council’s hands regarding administrative costs within the municipal budget and the salary ordinance for non-union employees. By agreeing to such stipulations, council relinquishes authority and responsibility. And, taxpayers pay more.
Unfortunately, this contract is now effective. Transparency was missing in this process as was public scrutiny since the contract was not available to the public until it was voted upon by council. Again, as with other personnel contracts, that’s too late. And, in this case, since it was approved as amended, nothing was available until the amended contract was signed by the mayor, weeks later.
Brigantine Taxpayers Association
Anne H. Phillips, president