PARSIPPANY — According to documents revealed through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request Ramona (Jackie) Ortiz was hired effective December 5, 2016 as a Keyboarding Clerk I, at an annual salary of $54,000. The salary ordinance for white-collar workers, specifically Keyboarding Clerk 1, Ordinance 2016:22, passed on second reading on August 16, 2016 states the salary is a minimum of $17,000 with a maximum of $48,000. She was hired at $6,000 more than the maximum amount allowed by Township Ordinance. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired Ms. Ortiz in clear violation of the law.
Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr., said “My concern is the Mayor is violating a town ordinance. In turn he’s breaking the law and it appears more than once. He’s hired people above the top salary allowed for those positions which clearly violates the town ordinance. We have hard working employees that have been working for the town for over 10 years in those positions and they are not even close to the top salary for their positions. Barberio seems to think it’s OK for him to bring in certain people and start them not only at the highest end of the salary range for those positions but he brings them in and starts them at a salary that exceeds the highest salary allowed therefore violating the town ordinance. What kind of message is he sending to the rest of our town employees and to the residents of our town. Again just another example of how Barberio thinks he is above the law.”
During a recent Council Meeting, Councilman Carifi questioned Business Administrator Ellen Sandman about the amount being paid and she said “Yes the Mayor is still paying certain employees more than the allowed amount for positions.” So to me, he (The Mayor) obviously doesn’t care.
Business Administrator Ellen Sandman said “As you know, we are going to be adopting the budget for 2017 hopefully by late April, at the very least early May, and you will then see the salary ordinance which will mark that which was approved through the budget by the Council in our new 2017 salary ordinance. It is then that we will have reviewed all the changes made after the August 16, 2016 ordinance. This new 2017 min/max ordinance will modify those changes that occurred after the 2016 salary ordinance and will also reflect adjustments made to individuals who exceed the current min/max. These changes may have occurred due to commitments made through classes, certifications, increased responsibilities. I’ve requested a Finance Committee meeting to review our practice of adopting a salary ordinance once a year and am contemplating perhaps a January salary ordinance to capture those changes that may have taken place after the previous ordinance but before the next budget adoption. It is important to note that the individual referred to was hired on December 5, 2016 and as of this date, has not exceeded the min/max ordinance. This will be addressed in the new 2017 min/max ordinance, as will all other titles that exceed the 2016 salary ordinance.”
“Although you are not asking about the Keyboarding Clerk I title specifically, I believe it is important to provide you with information as it relates to these outdated Civil Service titles. As I stated during the Council meeting, we have asked Civil Service to meet with us as well as the other nine Civil Service jurisdictions in Morris County to address this matter, said Ellen Sandman”
According to sources at Town Hall, Ms. Ortiz was hired to coordinate employee benefits. She was previously employed by Fairview Insurance. Fairview Insurance, a firm with close ties to the township donated approximately $50,000 to America’s Future First (AFF) and New Jersey’s Future First (NJFF) the political PACs that contributed indirectly to the reelection of Councilman Michael dePierro, and the election of Loretta Grangani. Vincent Ferrara was also a candidate but lost the election. Fairview Insurance is the Township’s Insurance Broker of Record.
In addition, the Director of Business Development for Fairview Insurance and liaison to the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, Ryan Graham, son of the founder of the firm, donated $12,000.00 to the Super PAC during this period.
This seems to be a normal event in Parsippany. This is not the first time Mayor James Barberio violated the white collar salary ordinance.
Earlier this year on January 9, 2017, Parsippany Focus reported Retired Police Sergeant Eugene Natoli was hired by Parsippany-Troy Hills Township on December 19, 2016 at an annual salary of $50,000. The “Request for Personnel Action” report indicates he works in the “Administration Department” as a “Keyboarding Clerk 1.” The position is a full time, permanent position. He was hired at $2,000 more than the maximum amount allowed by Township Ordinance. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired Mr. Natoli in clear violation of the law.
According to New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the definition of a Keyboarding Clerk I is “Under close supervision, performs routine, repetitive clerical work involving the processing of documents in a variety of functions; formats and key enters/types correspondence, documents, reports, charts and other materials on a computer console, typewriter, or other key entry device used by the agency; does other related duties as required. Keyboarding clerks typically spend a majority of their work time (more than 50%) typing or operating keyboard equipment. Speed and accuracy are essential for all keyboarding positions.
Business Administrator Ellen Sandman was hired in 2014, with $15,000 over the maximum salary guideline. When Mayor Barberio announced the hiring of Sandman, he revealed Sandman’s salary would be $140,000. Former Councilman Jonathan Nelson asked the Mayor in Public Session, “I don’t have the white collar salary ordinance in front of me but I believe this amount is over the salary cap,” The former CFO Joe Kovalcik stated that her pay was within the salary ordinance. Parsippany Focus filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the salary ordinance for white-collar workers at that time.
State Statute, 40:69A-40 states the duties of the Mayor shall enforce the charter and ordinances of the municipality and all general laws applicable thereto.
The salary ordinance indicated the white-collar workers, specifically Business Administrator, Ordinance 2013:16, passed on June 13, 2013 states the salary was a minimum of $75,000 with a maximum of $125,000. She was hired at $15,000 more than the Ordinance allowed. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired the new Business Administrator in clear violation of the law. (Click here to read article)
Shortly after Parsippany Focus published the story, the Mayor introduced Ordinance 2014:15 to the Council requesting a change in the salary ordinance for two positions. The Chief Financial Officer’s pay maximum was increased to $150,000 and the Business Administrator’s maximum pay was increased to $150,000. This ordinance was read on first reading, and voted 5-0. The second reading and final passage of the ordinance was read and voted 4-1 on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Council Vice President Robert Peluso voted against the salary change. That salary change was retroactive to January 1, 2014.
Parsippany Focus asked Mayor James Barberio, Councilman Michael dePierro, Council President Louis Valori, and Council Vice President Robert Peluso for comment, but didn’t respond to our requests.