The salary and use of a township vehicle of the new Business Administrator has been controversial since Parsippany Mayor James Barberio announced the hiring of Ellen Sandman on May 13. (Click here to read May 13 article). Ms. Sandman will begin her employment with the township on June 16.
Sandman will be leaving her Mendham Township position on Friday, June 13. She currently earns $130,000 with a $2,000 travel stipend. As of 2010, Mendham Township has a population of 5,869 and is 18 square miles, and does not have a full time Mayor.
At the May 13th meeting, former Parsippany Councilman Jonathan Nelson questioned Mayor James Barberio as to whether Ms. Sandman would be permitted to use a township vehicle to drive to and from home to work. He was referred to Ordinance 2008:29 which amended Chapter 57 of the Township Code:
Chapter 57 states:
A. No person whose date of employment begins after the effective date of this article shall receive a Township vehicle for his/her business use and/or as part of his/her compensation package. Furthermore, no employee who replaces an employee who, as of the effective date of this article, receives a Township vehicle for his/her business use and/or as part of his/her compensation package shall be entitled to receive a Township vehicle as part of his/her compensation package.
B. A list of the names of all employees who have Township vehicles assigned to them as of the effective date of this article and are exempt from this article solely because the Township vehicle in their possession was granted to them as a part of their compensation package and constitutes a term and condition of their employment, the loss of which would be actionable in a court of law, shall be kept on file in the Office of the Township Clerk.
C. Exempt from this article are emergency service personnel who rely upon authorized emergency vehicles for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, the Mayor, and other employees from the various departments who use Township vehicles substantially and/or wholly in the performance of their duties and in furtherance of the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Ordinance 2008:29 passed and was enacted into law October 21, 2008 unanimously by former council members Barberio, Cesaro, Fox, Grossi, and current member Michael dePierro.
When Mr. Nelson asked whether a township vehicle would be included as part of Ms. Sandman’s employment package, Mr. Barberio replied “Yes she gets a vehicle.” “The BA (Business Administrator) is exempt from that policy.” A close inspection of the ordinance and the minutes of the meeting from 2008 clearly state otherwise.
Sandman lives less than 5 miles from town hall according to Google Maps.
After Barberio revealed that Sandman’s salary would be $140,000, Mr. Nelson stated, “I don’t have the white collar salary ordinance in front of me but I believe this amount is over the salary cap,” CFO John Kovalcik stated that her pay was within the salary ordinance.
The salary ordinance for 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. Councilmen Nelson, Carifi, Stanton and Ferrara passed this ordinance unanimously. 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.
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.
Sandman replaces Jasmine Lim who retired on April 1 after being the Business Administrator since 2006. Lim’s final salary is listed as $123,247. Lim also received a township vehicle to drive to and from home since she was “grandfathered in” from the 2008 ordinance.
On Tuesday May 20, 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 will be $150,000. This ordinance was read on first reading, and voted 5-0. The second reading and final passage of this ordinance will be read and voted on Tuesday, June 17. The salary change will be retroactive to January 1, 2014.
During public session of the May 20 meeting, resident Roy Messmer said “Regarding Ellen Sandman’s vehicle, the ordinance was set up by John Cesaro, Ann Grossi and the other three council people at that time, (Michael dePierro, John Fox and James Barberio). It was done for fiscal responsibility, whichever Mayor, it was out of hand. Everyone got a car in this Township. I don’t believe the BA (Business Administrator) is going to leave her desk and see this town. I don’t think she should get a car (to drive home). She should just document her mileage. The ordinance was set up that way for a reason. She has a higher pay scale, and it’s going to help her pension. She might be the best BA we ever had in the state of New Jersey. Let her prove it.”
Resident Pat Petaccia also stated, “Business Administrator. Very nice lady, I have nothing against her. When I see our former BA was making $123,000 and we are offering this Administrator $140,000. That’s a $17,000 difference. I don’t care how qualified you are. Seriously. You all ran on saving the taxpayers money. You are not doing that. You are making it worse. And yes, when she retires, she will be retiring with that big salary. It’s coming off Parsippany. Thank You. There is no savings there. As far as the car, Jamie, you were on the council, Mr. dePierro you were on the council. John Cesaro, Ann Grossi and Mr. Fox. They ran (for re-election) on the fact that no cars were going to be given out anymore, no matter to who. Jamie, that was the outcome of that ordinance back then. That’s what the taxpayers wanted. And that’s why it was done.” She continued, “every time we question something it’s Mr. Inglesino’s opinion. That’s not what was meant by this (the ordinance). You know what was meant by this. You know. You keep breaking your own ordinances. And you are putting the town at risk for a lot of stuff. I just don’t see how you can sit here and making laws, and changing them on your whim without consulting anyone else. Yes Mayor I know, you can do whatever you want. The council has to approve it. That ordinance was out there for that specific reason. You can ask any taxpayer out there. Go ask John Cesaro. Go ask Ann Grossi. We have to stop this stuff. This is ridiculous,”
At the close of the public session, Mayor James Barberio responded, “In regards to the Business Administrator, no fault to the Council, when I offered $140,000, the salary ordinance has to be amended. We are amending that tonight. I heard Mr. Messmer and Ms. Petaccia and part of the duties of the BA is health, safety and welfare of the public. I can tell you this much, for the last four years that I been the Mayor when we had our snowstorms, we had all our storms, our BA was here. When I closed town hall, and the reason I closed town hall was for the public safety of our workers. I had to have people here. I could always depend on the BA. Always could depend. And I will be depending a lot of the BA that we have. First of all Ms. Petaccia, don’t put words in my mouth. I know I was part of that council and I said to those council members then, I felt the BA and the Mayor should have a vehicle. I said it to them. You can nod your head all you want. But the fact of the matter is this position is very important to the township and residents. The average BA in Morris County is $135,000, but you get towns like Randolph is $180,000 like Roxbury, smaller that Parsippany, $142,000, Pequannock $181,000. I hope you don’t leave now Ellen, because you can see there are other places that pay more than Parsippany. We are the largest town in Morris County, and I truly do believe that we got a good BA that’s coming here and she will do an excellent job.”
He continued to say “When it comes to salary, the council is held harmless on this. I expressed to them, I felt what she should be paid, with the recommendation of our (former) BA, Jasmine Lim. That being said, I think it is well worth it. You will see. Thank You.”
Barberio didn’t compare and failed to mention those towns all have a part-time Mayor and the Business Administrator handles the day-to-day operations, whereas in Parsippany the full-time Mayor runs the day-to-day operations. In addition, Parsippany has a full time Chief Financial Officer.
The Mayor’s salary for 2014 is $113,007*.
When asked for a comment on offering the new Business Administrator a salary $15,000 over the salary limit, Mr. Nelson said, “I wonder what other employees are being paid over the amount set by law. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
*Wayne Township, similar in size and often compared to Parsippany, is 27 square miles and has a population of 54,717. Wayne has a full time Business Administrator who receives $143,420 and does receive a township vehicle. However, Wayne does not have a full time Mayor. The Mayor does not receive a township vehicle and only receives $18,500. Accordingly to the 2010 census Parsippany has a population of 53,238 and is 26 square miles.
In Randolph, the Mayor is only present for town meetings and performs weddings. The Mayor is neither part-time nor full-time. In it’s form of government, Randolph does not have a Business Administrator, but rather a Business Manager who is a full-time employee, and does not receive a township vehicle. The maximum salary by Ordinance is $180,000, but the current Business Manager receives $168,000. The salary for the Mayor is $7,500 and the Mayor does not receive a township vehicle. The population of Randolph Township is 35,734 and is nearly 26 square miles.
Pequannock Township employs a Township Manager to run the town. He is also the part time Chief Finance Officer. The combined salary of both positions is approximately $158,000. He does not have a township vehicle and the mayor is not a full time job. The mayor is really councilperson and has the responsibility for running meetings. The Mayors salary is $200.00 a year and plus a Councilperson’s pay of $5,000 a year. The Mayor does not get a vehicle. The population of Pequannock Township is approximately 17,000 and is 7 square miles.
Roxbury employs a full time Township Manager with a salary of $142,000. Although the Township Manager does not receive a township vehicle, there is a $400.00 a month vehicle allowance. Roxbury does not have a full time Mayor and the Mayor’s salary is $6002.69 annually and the Mayor does not have access to a township vehicle. The population of Roxbury is approximately 22,000 and is 27 square miles.