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:

“This means the Union County taxpayers are paying for it, when they have not gotten raises, especially the elderly, who rely on a fixed income,” said Dahl, 68. “The cost of housing in Union County has also risen, along with gas prices and everything else.” While Dahl told TAPinto that she would not be able to make it to the Dec. 2 public hearing on the salary measure to address the board directly in Elizabeth, she wants her objection known. “What makes these officials think they deserve so much more than they have now?” she wrote. “I urge the Commission to vote ‘NO!’”

Last week, Garwood resident Bruce Paterson, who has frequently questioned the board’s actions, voiced his discontent over the pay increases, which he said in the past years have included pay hikes of up to 8% for certain officials. “Meanwhile, $3 million in food has to be given out to the poor residents,” Paterson said, referring to the county’s federally funded food distributions. “I can only describe this county government as idiotically tone-deaf.”

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