Brick Township Council members would receive no taxpayer-funded pay, stipends or health benefits under an ordinance Councilman Domenick Brando says he will propose at the Feb. 19 council meeting.
The ordinance, which Brando will place on the agenda for a first reading, will eliminate pay and benefits for current and future council members. Currently, council members are paid an $8,000 annual stipend, and are eligible to receive full employee health benefits or a waiver stipend if they opt out of the benefits program. The council president makes an additional $1,000 in salary, for a total of $9,000.
"I think it's the right thing to do for our taxpayers," said Brando. "We'd be like the Board of Education, we'd be doing it totally voluntarily."
"Living through what's happend after the storm and seeing the hardships the residents are facing, it's the least we can do."
Brando also indicated the proposal was, at least in part, inspired by an Asbury Park Press article published last week that included a quote from Councilman John Ducey saying the Democratic council majority would only appoint commissioners to the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority who would not accept health benefits from the authority.
"Why not extend that all the way to the council?" asked Brando.
"I haven't seen it yet," said Ducey, when asked about the proposal. "I don't know what it is or why it's even being proposed."
"It seems odd when it comes from someone who works for the MUA," Ducey said, referring to Brando.
Brando is an employee of the BTMUA, where his salary was $60,300 in 2011, according to public records.
Ducey also said the option of receiving benefits and a stipend was never removed for MUA commissioners.
"We didn't take it away, we're just asking the question, 'will you take benefits?" said Ducey.
Ducey, along with council members Jim Fozman, Bob Moore and Dan Toth currently accept health benefits as a result of their council positions. Fozman is also an MUA commissioner, though he does not take any stipends or benefits from his appointment there.
Brando, as well as council members Susan Lydecker and Joseph Sangiovanni, do not take council health benefits.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis pledged his support to Brando's proposal, which he said is an improved version of one he has repeatedly tried to introduce to both Republican and Democrat controlled councils.
"I think this was a long time coming," he said. "I think this is the first time, I believe, that a council member has put my ordinance forward."
"I think any money the township saves should be earmarked toward Sandy relief. I am in favor of it," the mayor said.