Resolution 156-18: JMEUC Salary

Resolution 156-18: JMEUC Salary thumbnail
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Published: May 16, 2018 @ 9:00 AM EST

The governing body approved a resolution at the May 3rd Mayor & Council meeting to formally address a longstanding criticism of a high yearly salary – this year almost $7,000 – paid to a councilmember who is appointed a representative member of the Joint Meeting of Essex & Union Counties.

For years, at the annual municipal reorganization meeting, a member of council and an alternate were publicly and formally appointed as a commissioner and alternate to the JMEUC. What was not well-known was that the position came with a monthly salary – upwards of $500 – whether that appointed member attended a meeting or not.

Year
Appointment
Alternate
Amount
2005
Kevin Murphy
Rick Matarante
$6,240
2006
Rick Matarante
Robert Rubilla
$6,456
2007
Robert Rubilla
Ricky Badillo
$6,456
2008
Ricky Badillo
Michael Yakubov
$6,456
2009
Michael Yakubov
Modesto Miranda
$6,456
2010
Modesto Miranda
Joseph DeIorio
$6,456
2011
Joseph Accardi
Modesto Miranda
$6,456
2012
Tanya Torres
Michael Yakubov
$6,456
2013
Andrew Casais
Tanya Torres
$6,456
2014
Ryan Kelly
Joseph Accardi
$6,456
2015
Carl Hokanson
Mohamed 'Gino' Elmarassy
$6,577
2016
Carl Hokanson
Charlene Storey
$6,708
2017
Eugene Meola
William Fahoury
$6,843
2018
William Fahoury
Carl Hokanson
$6,979
$90,890

The revolving door of Roselle Park appointees and alternate was a rarity since most other member municipalities had only one member who served for multiple years. Up until 2010, the correlation between those who were running for office being appointed was noticeable – with those familiar with the issue stating that the payment was geared to helping with campaigning.

That correlation stopped with Mayor Joseph Accardi but the annual appointment of a different councilmember remained in place. That practice was a detriment to being effective since every year a member would have to catch up on previous years’ work, decisions, and plans of action only to be replaced at the beginning of the next year.

Mayor Carl Hokanson was the first person to be appointed two years in a row which helped with consistency but the salary stayed. There were those who stated that the mayor at some point was looking at being the chair of the JMEUC who gets paid almost double the salary of a regular member.

But last year there was a shakeup when then-First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola was appointed over the mayor as a representative of the JMEUC. When asked why he should have gotten the position, then-Councilman Meola’s response was that it was his turn. When asked if he would formally donate his salary, his response was simple, “No.”

When Third Ward Councilman William Fahoury was appointed this year, he formally stated that he was going to donate his salary to a Roselle Park non-profit. After further public discussions, it was determined that a more effective and efficient way to deal with the salary was to apply almost all of it to credit 11-months’ salary to the municipality’s assessment, which it pays to the JMEUC.

That resolution, 156-18, was approved unanimously by council.

What remains to be seen is if the JMEUC will approve this arrangement or whether the other ten (10) members will do the same to help their taxpayers.