Acropolis Cuts His Salary to $1; Council Members Trade Barbs Over Pay
Tense moments after mayor calls on council to cut salaries
Brick Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis will voluntarily cut his salary to $1 per year for the remainder of his term, he announced at the end of Tuesday night's township council meeting.
Acropolis currently earns $52,000 in his post as the full-time mayor of Brick, but has taken criticism for also maintaining another full-time job as Toms River MUA commissioner from which he earns $92,000.
"The people have spoken loud and clear," Acropolis said, referencing the recent township council election, where incumbent Republicans were swept out of office by Democratic newcomers."If we as elected officials don't heed what the people say, then shame on us."
Democrats, during the campaign, had threatened to reduce Acropolis' salary to $15,000 per year if he did not give up his Toms River job.
"I am going to lead by example and give the taxpayers the best bang for their buck," Acropolis said, before urging council members to cut their salaries in half from $8,000 to $4,000.
Acropolis said he initially proposed cutting his own salary as well as council salaries at a meeting of the council's Business and Finance Committee in May, but the committee never brought it to the full council for a vote.
Acropolis' call for council members to reduce their salaries led Councilman Michael Thulen – who lost a re-election bid and will leave the council Jan. 1, 2012 – to propose an ordinance be passed before the new year that would make the reduction. Thulen's call was met with disagreement and some outright hostility by some of the remaining council members.
"We don't need anyone telling us what to do, especially people going out the door," said Councilman Joseph Sangiovanni, who will remain on the council next year.
"I don't think it's the right thing to do, to start changing things right now before this new council gets seated," Sangiovanni said.
"I heard what the voters said. I heard it loud and clear," said Councilman Domenick Brando, who will also remain on the governing body next year, directing his comments at Thulen. "You've worked at the MUA, I believe you've also had family members working in town. It's nice that on the way out you're proposing this. I know what the taxpayers said, and I'm going to do the best that I can to fix it."
Councilman Dan Toth, the third Republican who will remain on the governing body in 2012, did not address the issue directly.
But Council President Brian DeLuca got in a final jab before the meeting ended.
"It's a shame that some people come to some type of an epiphany after an election, when it's clear in your face all year long," said DeLuca, hinting that he supported reducing council salaries in the past year but did not push the issue because he is a "team player."
DeLuca, who earned a $9,000 total stipend for serving as council president, gave up his salary after landing a job at the Lakewood motor vehicle office earlier this year.
But regardless of whether the remaining Republicans and incoming Democrats take Acropolis' suggestion and lower their salaries, the mayor had a message for his fellow GOP officials: get back to the basics.
"Our government needs to get smaller, and we have to get back to our Republican principles, principles which may have gotten lost this past year," he said.