Municipal Budgets 2021 (6) Insurance

Comparing pension records as to employee counts to 2021 budget allocations that municipalities in Union County paid for insurance including group health, health benefit waivers , and general liability including workers compensation yields these spreadsheets with rankings by municipality.

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Municipal Budgets 2021 (5) Debt Rankings

Per Capita, Linden has the largest debt payment and (after Winfield which has no debt) Hillside has the smallest debt payment in 2021.

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Municipal Budgets 2021 (4) Pension Contributions

Comparing pension records to 2021 budget allocations that municipalities in Union County made for their contributions to the New Jersey Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) shows that, on average, PERS and PFRS contributions made up 8.17% of total budgets, representing $170 per resident. The average contribution as a percentage of a participant’s salary came to 25.03% with $19,942 as the average contribution per participant.

Spreadsheets with this data and a breakdown by municipality follow.

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Municipal Budgets 2021 (3) Salary Rankings

On average, Hillside pays the most and Garwood the least.

Budgets include part-timers and employee counts are arbitrary. Salaries in the 2021 budgets are included in these worksheets but it is pension records as June 30, 2021, which presumably would include all the full-timers, from which these comparisons are drawn.

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Turning Kenilworth Into Slums

It may not have been planned (at least well):

But that’s where it’s headed – and Kenilworth taxpayers are on the hook for it:

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Municipal Budgets 2021 (2) Tax Rankings

How much does each municipality in Union County charge their taxpayers for the services they provide?

Other blogs in this series will compare costs by types of service, debt, insurance, and pensions. This one calculates the amount raised by taxation for 2021 divided by population which is an imperfect measurement since owners of commercial properties pay taxes (substantial in cases like our costliest municipality) but are not counted in population figures. They also do not have children to educate or entertain and on account of the jobs they provide are often a boon for their municipalities.

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Municipal Budgets 2021 (1) Websites and Who Pays the Most and Least

That is the question we look to answer in this series.

All but two municipalities in Union County have their 2021 budgets online so this is a good time for comparisons.

We start off with links to the websites where those budgets are uploaded. On Monday we will put up a a ranking of taxes paid per capita by municipality based on these budgets and the latest census data. Future blogs will compare debt levels, number of employees, payroll, and pension and health insurance costs.

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Tap Into Taxpayer Anger

Tapinto Westfield followed up on the massive raises Union County department heads are giving themselves by linking to this blog and getting this explanations from the Commissioner Chairman:

Commissioner Chairman Al Mirabella in an interview Monday said the raises for department heads — including an 18.8% salary increase for Union County Manager Ed Oatman, which would bring his salary to $220,977.01 — are justified. “We felt that it was in line with what other executives, other administrators make, and we felt like it was an adjustment to compensate him accordingly for what his responsibility is,” Mirabella said….Mirabella said that in Union County, the county manager serves a role that in some other counties — such as nearby Essex County — is filled by two people: a county executive and a county administrator. Five counties in New Jersey have a county executive….The board arrived at the raises following annual reviews, Mirabella said. Among the considerations, he said, was performance during the pandemic and certain administrators serving in more than one position….The pay hikes also come after a workforce reduction at the county from 2,491 employees to 2,096, Mirabella said.This year, the county shut its jail in Elizabeth through a shared services with Essex County that, officials said, saves $20 million annually, a move enabled by a declining prison population. It follows the 2019 closure of the Union County Juvenile Detention Center in Linden. “There’s been a reduction in the county workforce, which saves obviously significant dollars in fringe benefits,” said Mirabella, who also said the county has a AAA bond rating.

Basically, working from home most of the time, overseeing 400 less people, and not overseeing a jail, juvenile detention center, or Runnells is the justification for an 18.8% raise. And Union County also happens to have a Deputy County Manager. At this rate, imagine what Union County taxpayers would be paying the County Manager if the county had no employees and did nothing.

Other people had different takes:

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Harbor Hopes – Scotch Plains Edition

Democrats did not get elected this year in Kenilworth which gives republicans a 4-2 advantage on the council so the tenement project is in doubt and the pay-to-player engineering firm that pushed the project, Harbor Consultants, is also in doubt for 2022. However donation records show that, if Kenilworth falls through, Scotch Plains can step up as there the democrat triumphed.

Working Union County is one thing as that is a big pot but going after Kenilworth or Scotch Plains might get some notice.

Scotch Plains billing records just came in so here is how much Harbor Consultants donates and how much they get back. We’re talking Oatman money.

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Tap Into Taxpayer Apathy

As is the case in many large organizations, the staff provide direction to the board, rather than vice versa.

Jeffrey C. Hooke – The Myth of Private Equity (pages 10-11)

The quote refers to public pension boards, specifically in Maryland, but applies equally to government boards like the Union County Board of Commissioners who define the art of rubber stamping. This time a media outlet, Tapinto Westfield, noticed possibly on account the massive size of the raises the honchos employed at Union County are giving themselves (throwing in a little something for the board members as well).

For example, at this rate of salary increase, you may be interested to know what year County Manager Ed Oatman will be making over a million dollars in annual salary.

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