Tensions Rise Over Contracts, Salary Increases, and Governance Issues at Milltown Borough Council Meeting
At a recent Milltown Borough Council meeting, discussions regarding contracts and salary increases for the borough’s administrator and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) sparked debate between council members. Other concerns raised included the appointment of a risk manager, potential misuse of borough resources, the timing of contract decisions, and disagreements over the need for a labor attorney’s involvement in reviewing contracts. These issues were brought to light amid broader debates over the borough’s governance, the utilization of borough resources, and the role of the incoming council.
The resolution 302 2023, which proposed salary increases for the borough administrator and CFO, was at the center of the debate, with residents George Murray and Frank Manco raising questions about the contract values for both positions and the borough administrator’s tenure. Councilman James Pareti explained that the contract was not a tenure contract but a fair contract for this year, with the opportunity for Mayor-elect Murray to make changes after January 1st. The contracts provided specified a $126,000 base salary for the borough administrator in 2024, and $34,000 for the CFO, with subsequent increases in the following years.
Council members also debated the necessity of contracts for other department heads and the potential precedent it could set. Councilman Pareti stated that it would be up to the personnel committee and the council to decide on such contracts. The conversation then turned to the timeline and preparation of the agenda. Councilman John Collins and Mayor Trina Mehr had a disagreement regarding a personnel meeting, with Councilman Collins claiming that the Mayor did not call him to discuss it. Mayor Mehr defended her actions, stating that she had sent multiple emails to set up the meeting.
Another point of contention arose regarding the appointment of a risk manager for 2024, with Councilman Richard Revolinsky arguing that this decision should be made by the incoming council during the reorganization meeting. The council members debated the issue, with some supporting the resolution due to the unique circumstances, while others emphasized the standard procedure of incoming councils appointing professionals.
Council members also raised concerns about the effectiveness of a gate as a traffic calming device and the increase in crime in the town, with a local business owner emphasizing the importance of supporting local businesses. The council acknowledged the need for further investigation and follow-up on these matters.
The discussion also touched on net metering for solar energy and electric vehicle rebates, with a resident expressing a desire for the borough to encourage such initiatives. Mayor Trina Mehr promised to follow up on the matter.
In the public comments section, a resident expressed concern about the long-term CFO contract and its potential impact on the new administration, suggesting a one-year renewal instead. A representative from Raritan Bay Medical Center-Johnson told the council about the ongoing strike by the hospital’s nurses, who have been demanding safe staffing for over 100 days. They requested the council’s support in passing a resolution for two bills related to safe staffing. The council members expressed support for the resolution, acknowledging the need for appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios in critical care and operating rooms.
City Council Officials:
Phil Zambrana, Margaret O’Donnell, James Pareti, David Potter, Richard Revolinsky, John Collins