VINELAND — The city’s five elected officials will — at least for now — get their same salary for the foreseeable future.
A proposal that would double the salary for the mayor and City Council went nowhere on Tuesday because of a lack of support by some City Council members.
The ordinance proposed to increase the mayor’s salary from $30,000 to $60,000 a year. Annual pay for City Council members would increase from $5,000 to $10,000, with the panel’s president getting an additional $1,000.
The ordinance would also give the mayor $1,000 in travel allowances and another $1,500 for “other general expenses.”
City officials said the proposed salary increases were considered in part because elected officials in Bridgeton, a municipality with about half of Vineland’s population, are paid more than elected officials in Vienland. Another reason is that a pending pay increase would leave the mayor’s secretary with a larger salary than the mayor.
City Councilman Douglas Albrecht, who lost a mayoral bid in the Nov. 6 election, and City Councilman Louis Cresci, who lost his re-election bid, were the only members of the governing body who said they would support the authorizing ordinance.
Albrecht said the salaries should be increased through action by a lame-duck City Council because panel members who take office in January would likely not have the political courage to approve the raises. He also said that increasing the mayor’s salary to $60,000 is appropriate for the amount of work done by the city’s chief executive.
“It’s not a part-time job,” Albrecht said. “That’s an illusion.”
“If we have to move it forward, I think the time is now,” Cresci said.
But City Councilman Edward Conroy, who did not seek re-election, said the ordinance came up at the last minute, had no provisions that linked the salary increases to measurable performance standards, and provided no time to seek adequate public input.
Council President Peter Coccaro said he would abstain. Councilwoman Mayra Arroyo said the decision should be left up for the next administration, and that she would vote against the measure now.
Coccaro and Arroyo are seeking re-election and are among the 10 candidates who will participate in the City Council runoff election on Dec. 18.
The new City Council could opt to vote on the salary increases once they take office in January, City Solicitor Alfred Verderose said.
Salaries for mayor and City Council members were last increased more than 20 years ago.
The salary issue was last raised in 2008 during the waning days of the administration of then-Mayor Perry Barse. The plan set the mayor’s salary at $60,000, and the salary for City Council members at $10,000, starting this year.
That legislation was passed but eventually revoked by the current City Council.
In other business, City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to introduce an ordinance creating a new retail liquor license.
The license creation was part of a development agreement with Bottino ShopRite, which is building a $17 million supermarket on West Landis Avenue. The license will be put to public auction with starting bid of $300,000, Albrecht said.
The creation of that license was criticized recently by some local liquor license operators and the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance. The license operators and the alliance contend existing retail liquor establishments could lose significant sales if Bottino ShopRite eventually gets the new license.
The ordinance will undergo a second reading and public hearing when City Council meets Dec. 11.
City Council also voted 5-0 to name Arroyo to a special committee that will investigate the use of taxpayer money in connection with the Four Corners development project at the intersection of Landis and East avenues.
The project involved about $4 million in Urban Enterprise Zone funding. UEZ money comes from state sales tax revenue.
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