Mayoral Salary Issue Settled
Council approves salary ordinance in 5-2 vote
Brick's mayor will be paid $52,000 per year if he or she works less than 35 hours per week outside of town hall. But the salary will be reduced to $15,000 for mayors who work full-time in outside positions, defined as 35 hours or more per week.
The issue, which has been debated for more than two months, was settled by a 5-2 vote by the township council Tuesday night.
Council President John Ducey has said the ordinance provides "part-time pay for part-time work," but not everyone agreed with that premise.
In a public hearing before the vote was taken, several residents offerred opinions on alternative solutions to determining the mayor's pay.
"Cutting the mayor's salary is degrading," said former Councilman Al Chrobocinski. "It gives the impression that the mayor's post is not needed."
Chrobocinski said cutting the salary of a mayor who has alternate employment could dissuade Brick residents who work in private industry from seeking the office.
"The mayor's salary shouldn't be based on whether he has outside employment or outside income," said Greenbriar resident Nan Coll. "People frequently work from home. Everybody has personal communication devices where they can be in touch instantly as if they were there."
But Roxanne Jones, another Brick resident, applauded the move.
"We are living in financially perilous times," Jones said. "I'm confident that with the salary adjustment, we can still obtain competent leadership for our town."
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, who has pledged to take a $1 per year salary for the remainder of his term, said although he wouldn't be affected by the law, he did not support the move.
"This is just really an ordinance that protects other people down the road," Acropolis said.
The mayor said there is no way of verifying one's employment or enforcing the ordinance, and anyone who owns his or her own business – such as a lawyer or plumber – could simply say they work less than 35 hours to collect the full time salary.
Township Attorney Jean Cipriani, who did not draft the ordinance, said the salary regulation would be "self-executing."
"If somebody believed they were violating that, they would have to bring those proofs forward," Cipriani said.
Acropolis brought up a number of scenarios, including a person who works varied hours depending on the week.
"If that situation occurs, it would have to be addressed," Ducey said. "It's self-reporting from the mayor, as described."
But despite the objections of the current mayor, who said he was glad he would not be affected by the ordinance, the measure passed 5-2.
Councilmen Domenick Brando and Joseph Sangiovanni cast the dissenting votes.
"I think it's a total waste of time," Sangiovanni said. "I only hope that going forward, we spend as much time as we did on this on the budget, and lowering taxes."
Brando said he cast a 'no' vote because he feels the ordinance will turn the town into a "circus" when the next mayor is elected.
"It's gonna be a zoo around here in a couple years," Brando said. "Whoever the next mayor is, somebody is gonna win and somebody is gonna lose. Whoever loses is gonna be angry. There are going to be people following people, people filing charges of fraud. Get ready for a circus."
Acropolis' term as mayor concludes at the end of 2013. He has not indicated as to whether he'll seek re-election, though he maintains a campaign fund according to filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
The debate over the mayor's pay began after Acropolis maintained his mayor's salary in Brick while working a second full-time position with the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority.
Following an election that led to four Democrats taking control of the governing body, Acropolis announced he would give up the $52,000 salary from his position as mayor.